Apr 16, 2017

Easter Sunday

This is the Day the Lord has made!

Every Sunday, the first day of the week, has been always dedicated to the Lord. That's why we call it the "Lord's Day".  It's not your day. It's not my day. It's the Lord's Day.  

It's also the first day of the week, the working week.  It's the first day of our heavenly Father's work, and that of His greatest work, rising Jesus Christ from the dead. God has done all the heavy lifting! We gather on Sundays to say "thank you", but also to tap into God's strength that can defeat the powers of darkness, the anger that comes from hatred, the fears that breed intolerance, the injustice that condemns the innocent.  

This does not come from people power. It comes from God's grace that alone can move mountains, defeat evil and raise the dead to life. Jesus Christ is living proof! What brings us here on Sunday, whether we realize it our not, is the Holy Spirit speaking through our conscience, our soul's desire to be filled of God's grace, to be be filled with His strength. For we know, that left to our own way of doing things, we will be always tired, never truly at peace or content with ourselves or our the world.

But whether you are here Sunday after Sunday, whether you arrived late or out of breath, have your favorite seat or find yourself hiding behind a pillar, or chasing your kids behind the glass doors in the children’s area, or even listening to the service from the outside speakers in the piazza, regardless where you have come from or where you find yourself in life, here and now, in this holy place, around this altar - the meeting place between heaven and earth, you are home - you can be at rest.

Here, in God's house, in His holy Church there’s room, a safe place for everyone. That’s why the word that best describes the Church is “catholic”, an ancient adjective that simply means “universal, belonging to all”. The Catholic Church was never and is never a denomination. It has and is always a place were saints and sinners sit side by side, a family were we love and care for each other, and even, at times fight and wrestle among ourselves.

That's why, when we are at home, it’s the only place where our lives are real: faith and fear, love and hope, struggles and ideals.  It is here that we remember that God knows me by my name. It is here, like an oasis in the desert, where I can finally reflect on my life outside of the noise and craziness of the world. It is where sacred music and graceful movement, where the flickering of beeswax candles and the sweet smell of incense can raise our minds up towards a vision of a new heaven and a new earth.  

This is where we find assurance that God listens to our prayers, our worries, our hopes and even our fears.  This is where our souls can be fed, not with food for thought, but with food from heaven.  Here is where saints and sinners sit on the same bench.  And even though any one of us might have a thousand reasons not to be here, it only takes one reason to be here on Sunday.

We know that today marks, in a way, the event accomplished by Jesus Christ, who was killed on the cross and buried in a tomb on Friday, and on the third day, He miraclously and physically rose from the sleep of death. That’s the Resurrection. In fact, it's what we celebrate every Sunday. This is how we begin each working week, with the power of God that raises the dead to life, giving us new purpose in our daily life.

I would like to renew the invitation to keep returning to this sacred place, Sunday after Sunday - to keep this day sacred so that we can begin our working week with the strength that comes from Christ's victory over sin and death itself.

Open up your senses, and allow your sight, your hearing, touch, smell, taste and posture to be purified by something sacred - not of this world. Open up your heart, and allow the gentle Spirit of God to slowly calm your fears and anxieties.  Open up your soul, to recognize your deepest longing for God, not for a brief moment – but for all eternity.  That is the Sunday invitation to begin every week with.

Build upon this holy hour. Build upon this day. Build upon the Lord's Day, again and again. And because it will become more and more difficult to keep the door of our hearts and souls open the longer we stay away from the One who loves us and offers us a place at his table, for even if you do not receive Holy Communion, keep coming back. Allow God's Church to help build up within you an appetite for a food and a suspense for what is eternal.  

I know it is not easy.  Sometimes it will take some time to slowly turn a big ship around.  But now that you are here and have begun this momentum, continue to come about.

And maybe this is what Easter is all about. Finding something that is predictably eternal when all about us in chaos and and crisis. Finding someone who was dead and defeated it's power and broke its hold - our point of reference to begin every week is not a concept, an idea. It's a person - that's Jesus Christ our Lord. Here in this sacred place is where we hear His Word, meet Him face to face and receive the strength of His grace Sunday after Sunday to get through the week, again and again and again until that one eternal day comes upon us. May we be able to meet it head on, because we got a glimpse of it today, the Lord's Day.

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