Sunday, 1 April 2018 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Alleluia! Alleluia! The Lord is risen in glory, He has triumphed over sin and death. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we rejoice together as the whole entire Church celebrating the coming of Easter, after we have spent over a month, forty days to be exact, to prepare ourselves in our body, our mind, our spirit and our soul, to glorify together the Risen Christ, the Lord Our God Who has saved us by His death on the cross and by His defeat of death.

The Scripture readings of Easter Vigil detailed to us the important events in the history of mankind, in the history of our people throughout time, where from time to time, God continued to make His presence and works known to us, beginning with the creation of the world itself, as He created this whole world with all of its living things and all of us, the pinnacle of His creation.

At the same time, the Scripture passages showed us how God delivered His people from harm and renewed the Covenants He had made with them. Ultimately in all of these, God showed us just how much He has loved us, to the point that He was willing to go through all the pains, sorrows and all the persecutions which we remember and we commemorate during the entirety of this Holy Week, meaning His Passion, His suffering and death on the cross.

However, everything that we celebrated throughout the Holy Week, all of them have no meaning if the Lord Jesus has not risen from the dead. The Lord’s glorious entry into Jerusalem, and then the Last Supper where He gave His own Body and Blood to His disciples, and thus from them to us all, and then His crucifixion and death on the cross commemorated on Good Friday, all these had no meaning if the Lord Jesus remained dead. All the promises He had made with us and given us, would have no meaning if He had not risen from the dead.

But the Lord Jesus did rise from the dead, the only one among the sons and daughters of Adam to do so. That is because while He is the Son of Man, born of mankind through His mother Mary, He is also God, Son of the Father, the Divine Word Incarnate, as He took up the flesh of Man, He did not leave behind or be separated from His divinity. Instead, in the person of Jesus Christ, the two natures of Man and God is united while distinct, and in the person of Our Lord Jesus, our salvation has come.

Through His humanity, He has united all of us mankind, and brought us who believe in Him to accepting the death of our past physical existence, our sins and our wickedness. While He was sinless and pure Himself, He willingly took up upon Himself the punishment for all of our sins, which He bore upon the cross. As He died on that cross, all of us Christians have also died to our sins, and shared in the sufferings of Christ, bearing our own crosses in life.

Then, as He, by His own power and majesty, triumphed over death and sin, showing to all that He is God, Who rules over life and death. And as He is God, His divinity is eternal, and by that, He overcame death, and rose from the dead. This is the pinnacle and final event in the long planned salvation which God has promised to all of us, the children of Adam, by showing us that sin and Satan do not have the final say over us.

And just as all of us share in the death of Christ, then all of us who believe in Him, will also share in His resurrection. Through Christ, all of us have been brought to a new life, no longer enslaved to sin, liberated from the chains that bound us. How did He do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? As we all heard from the Scripture passages today, we should have heard about the moment when the Israelites were delivered from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh at the Red Sea.

At that time, God used His might to free the people of Israel from slavery under the Egyptians, and brought them out of Egypt towards the land He promised to all of them. Then, Pharaoh again hardened his heart and refused to accept the fact that the Israelites were free, and chased them to the Red Sea with his armies and the chariots. Then God told Moses to stretch his hands over the sea, and God opened the Red Sea before the Israelites.

The Israelites walked through the Red Sea to the other side, while the Lord held back the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. Then the Lord destroyed the armies of the Pharaoh of Egypt in the Red Sea after the Israelites have safely passed through the waters. This, brothers and sisters in Christ, is what was celebrated at the Jewish Passover, the most important event in the Jewish calendar and celebrations.

The symbolism of water is very powerful indeed, and it is linked to why baptisms of those who accepted the faith and converted to the Christian faith are conducted optimally during this celebration of Easter Vigil, or at least on Easter Sunday. That is because, in the Sacrament of Baptism, by the holy water blessed on this day, those who are baptised receive cleansing from their original sins, and made pure to be a clean and pure slate, a new life in God.

And water is both a symbol of death as well as life. Water can both destroy as well as bring life and sustain it. Water can be a very destructive force as we see in tsunamis and huge waves, as well as floods and heavy rains. And thus, our old life is ‘destroyed’ by the water and we are made anew by the life-giving property of water. At that time, the Israelites passed through the water of the Red Sea from their old life of slavery into a new freedom, while we passed through the waters of Baptism from our old, sinful life into a new life filled with God’s grace.

Thus, Easter is also a Passover which supersedes and far exceeds the original Passover. This Christian Passover marks the moment when the Lord liberates us mankind, His beloved people, from our slavery to sin. This is just as how the Lord liberated His people from their enslavement by the Egyptians. All of us who have sinned, are enslaved by those sins, and unless we are freed from those sins, we will endure death and damnation, separation from God.

Why is that so? That is because sins corrupt us, and corruption and wickedness have no place before God, Who is all good and perfect. Thus, if we have sinned, and did not have those sins purified, we cannot be with God, and that was why our ancestors Adam and Eve were banished from God’s presence in Eden in the first place, for their disobedience and thus sin against God.

God loves each and every one of us, brothers and sisters, and that is why, even though He despises our sins and wickedness, He loves each and every one of us regardless. From the smallest to the greatest of sinners, He loves us all, and He wants each and every one of us to be reconciled to Him. If He has shown His mercy and love to the Israelites, the people with whom He first made His Covenant, faithful to His Covenant with Abraham, His servant, then surely He also wants us all, every one of the children of Adam and Eve, to be saved from our slavery to sin?

All of us Christians have been given this great grace of forgiveness through our baptism. But, as we make the renewal of our baptismal promises this Easter, let us all reflect on our lives thus far. Have we lived our Christian lives earnestly and with faith in God? Or have we lapsed back into our old ways and to our sins that God has cleansed through our baptism? We need to reflect on this so that our Easter celebrations can be truly meaningful.

Let us ask ourselves this important question, “What is a Christian to us? What does being a Christian mean to us?” Does a Christian mean for us to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes, it does. And then, does a Christian mean that we need to go for the Holy Mass every Sunday? Yes, it does. But is that all that we need to do, brothers and sisters in Christ? No, certainly it is not.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us need to realise that as Christians, each and every one of us are called to the same mission which God has entrusted to us, that is to be His witnesses, the witnesses of His resurrection and as the bearers of His Good News to people of all the nations, by going forth to preach the Good News and the truth, not just by words, but also through our actions and exemplary deeds of faith.

Therefore, let us all be true disciples and followers of the Lord, that is as true and devout Christians, doing His will and walking righteously in His path always. Let us all be true witnesses of His resurrection, that even though we have not seen Him physically risen from the dead, but through our fervent and genuine faith, we will declare His glorious resurrection and triumph over sin and death to all the people.

May the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, Our triumphant Lord and King be with us always, that together, all of us Christians, who believe in Him, in His Passion, in His suffering and death, and in His resurrection in glory, may share fully in Him, the glory of eternal life with Him. May the Risen Lord bless us all, and may He keep us all in His everlasting love and grace. Amen.

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