Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we mark the glorious occasion of Easter, that after the forty long days of our Lenten observance and the six Sundays of Lent, we have finally reached the glorious Easter time. We rejoice greatly this Sunday together because Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, has triumphed over sin and death, overcoming their hold and dominion over each and every one of us. All of us have seen the salvation of God in the flesh, appearing before us in Jesus Christ. And it is our core belief that we believe in the Lord Jesus, Who has suffered, died and then rose in glory from the dead for our salvation.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles about the testimony of faith that St. Peter, the leader of the Apostles and the Church spoke to the assembled people during the time when he paid a visit to Cornelius, a Roman centurion who came to believe in God with his family. At that time, St. Peter had been hesitant to visit Cornelius because visiting the house of a Gentile or non-Jew was frowned upon by the Jews and many of the early Christians had been Jewish in origin, and many of them still held strongly to their Jewish traditions, customs, as well as prejudices.
That was when the Lord showed St. Peter a vision of a great cloth coming down from heaven within which there were contained many animals deemed unclean by the laws of Moses. The Lord told St. Peter to eat of those animals, but he refused to do so citing that those animals were unclean and unfitting for him to eat. This was where the Lord then told St. Peter that whatever God had deemed to be clean and worthy, he must not deem to be unclean. As this was repeated three times, St. Peter finally realised the Lord’s intentions as he came to visit Cornelius and saw a large number of people gathering after he visited the house of Cornelius.
The assembled people were likely consisting of many Jewish people as well as non-Jews or Gentiles alike. Some of the Jews were wondering why St. Peter would go to visit the house of a foreigner, an act that would defile him and made him unclean himself in the sight of the Jews. Meanwhile, many among the Gentiles were likely curious with St. Peter and what he brought into their midst, with the teachings about this Jesus that the whole of Judea, Samaria and Galilee had been talking about, especially with the recent crucifixion, death and resurrection of the Lord.
Thus, many of the people must have been curious to learn more about the Lord, both among the Jews and the Gentiles alike, and it was at that occasion, St. Peter spoke courageously proclaiming His Lord and Master before all the assembled people, and how God had sent Christ into this world to be its Saviour, to bring salvation to all the peoples, to all of mankind. The Lord has shown His great love, compassion and mercy through Christ, Who has endured the worst of sufferings and pain, trials, humiliation and torture, all for our sake. Through His wounds we have been healed and by sharing in His death we have died to our old way of life and sinful past, and by sharing in His resurrection, we have been called to a new life and existence with Him, a new life blessed by God.
That was exactly what St. Paul spoke about in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth which makes up our second reading passage today. All of us Christians through baptism have shared in Our Lord’s death and resurrection. We have passed through the waters of baptism, the water that cleansed our past sins and destroyed our old way of life, and the water of rebirth that brought into us a new life, a life blessed by God. That is essentially what the joy of Easter is all about, brothers and sisters in Christ. The joy of Easter is the joy of knowing that we are no longer shackled and enslaved by the power of sin and death, because the Lord Himself has come into our midst and freed us.
However, as we rejoice and celebrate this Easter with great festivities and exultation, at the same time we also need to reflect carefully on our own attitudes and actions. As Christians, have we truly believed in the Resurrection and in all the truth that the Lord has revealed and taught to us through His Church? Or have we instead been lukewarm and end up only resorting to attending Mass on Sundays but without any further activities as actually required by our Christian faith? How many of us did not even spend quality time with the Lord, and only looked for Him when we needed Him? And while it is good that many of us attend the Holy Week and Easter celebrations, how many of us only willingly came to take part in those celebrations and nothing else?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today on this great Easter Sunday, the glorious Sunday of the Resurrection of Our Lord, we are all reminded that just as the Lord’s Resurrection has been celebrated every year as a reminder of all that the Lord had done for our sake, each and every one of us are also reminded of the obligations and calling we have received as Christians, to be fellow disciples and followers of Our Lord. We cannot be idle in living our lives but we have to be ready to proclaim our faith in the Risen Lord much as how St. Peter had done in the midst of many people who questioned him and some even doubting him.
Then we may be worried or are concerned that we will not be able to carry out great works at evangelisation and in reaching out to others. But this should be the least of our concern, brothers and sisters. Do not forget that St. Peter and many among the Apostles were illiterate, and by the many standards of the world, they were way less than ‘worthy’ to do the great works that were required of them as Apostles and the chief disciples of the Lord. Yet, they persevered and let the Lord to lead them and guide them in whatever they were called to do, and wherever they had been sent to work the good works of the Lord.
The Lord does not only call the qualified but instead He qualifies those whom He has called and chosen, and then answered His call. That was how the Apostles were able to carry out so many great and wonderful works that brought so many people closer to God and to His path, introducing Him and revealing Him to many people who have not yet known Him. They listened to the Lord, opened their hearts and minds to Him, and did their best to contribute their works and efforts to glorify the Lord at all possible opportunities. They were willing to labour hard, and even suffer and die for the sake of the Lord and His people, which all of them except for St. John did. St. John himself while dying of a natural old age, had seen a lot of persecution in his long life.
In the Gospel reading that is used for the Easter Sunday evening Mass, the reading of the two disciples of the Lord who went on their way to the village of Emmaus and encountering the Lord on their way, we are reminded through it that many of us are perhaps like those two disciples, who were unsure and uncertain, doubtful and had not given ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord just yet. We are like the two disciples who went away with fear in their hearts, with uncertainties and unwillingness to commit to the Lord, and they were also unable to recognise the Lord being present in their midst. Yet, we heard how the Lord patiently opened their eyes and minds by explaining to them the Scriptures and all that He had done in saving the whole world, and they eventually recognised Him, returning to the Apostles and the other disciples and proclaiming the truth about the Risen Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to open our hearts and minds to the Lord as well. Just as we rejoice in this glorious Resurrection of Our Lord, we have to remember to bring this Easter joy to our own various communities and to the different people whom we encounter in life. As Pope St. John Paul II famously mentioned, ‘We are all Easter people and Alleluia is our song!’, this serves as a reminder to us that we have to proclaim the Lord joyfully through our lives, through our actions and attitudes in life. In our interactions with one another, we have to show the love of God, the love of the Risen Lord and Saviour, that whoever whose lives we touch, they may come to know our Risen Lord through us.
As we renew our baptismal promises this Easter Sunday, we are called again to remember what we need to do as Christians, to be filled with God’s love and to do our best in whatever even little things we do, to be exemplary in our faith and way of life that our lives may inspire many others to follow us in the path that the Lord has shown us. We must not forget that we too are witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and love, His resurrection and the salvation that He has promised all those who are faithful to Him. We are the beacons of Christ’s light in this world, that through us the Light of Christ may penetrate the darkness in the heart of many of our fellow brothers and sisters.
May our Risen Lord and Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, be with us all and may He bless all of our works, actions and good deeds, all for the greater glory of His Name. May God strengthen us with the courage to persevere, no matter what trials and challenges we may encounter, now and always. Amen.