Homily on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

The Resurrection is depicted in «Christ Risen from the Tomb,» a painting by Italian Renaissance artist Bergognone. The artwork is from the Samuel H. Kress Collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. (CNS photo/courtesy of the National Gallery of Art)

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

Happy Easter to all of you!

I don’t like to talk much about myself. But today I will begin to speak badly about me, to end up speaking well of Jesus.

This has been, I can say, the smoothest and easiest Holy Week I have ever had in my life. Last year I was celebrating each day of the Triduum in three different Hispanic communities. I was running from one place to another and with so much hustle and bustle the week was going fast and intense.

In Cuba the same thing happened to me, I was pastor of three different communities, and therefore, I had to celebrate three Palm Sunday celebrations, three Suppers of the Lord, three Stations of the Cross and Offices of the Passion, two Easter Vigils and three Resurrection Sundays. The rhythm was intense, one ended up terribly tired, but Christ shone and one was happy.

I remember in 2014, when my Congregation sent me to Guatemala, I had a mission in a very violent area. Every night we heard at least one or two gunshots. While we were celebrating the Easter Vigil in a small village in Escuintla (those who know Guatemala will know what I am talking about), a gunshot, the kind we used to hear, took the life of a young man who was my age (27 years old at the time) right in the corner of the Chapel where we were celebrating the Vigil.

I had never been so close to the mysteries of Life and Death. When the body of that young man was being taken away, I wondered and questioned myself inside, what answer I could give to the family that was mourning him. That Easter night, the Risen Christ taught me that whatever the answer, fear of the mystery of death could never be the final word.

This year has been different, without the hustle and bustle of previous years. There has been less work, but at the same time more time to meditate on the deeper meaning of the Paschal mystery we celebrate in these days. And yesterday, while we were singing the Vigil songs, I remembered that Vigil at the Guatemala Mission and the death of that young man, of whom I could only know the age; and I wanted to add this ánecdote to the homily.

The truth is that I could have been that young man.

The truth is that the border between death and life is very thin.

The truth is that if today we have hope in the face of this mystery and contemplate tomorrow with optimism, it is thanks to another young man, who two thousand years ago not only allowed himself to be swallowed up by this dark mystery, but finally defeated it and wanted to share his victory with us.

On Good Friday we contemplated him defeated. Many of us, with tears in our eyes, accompanied Him once again, one more year, on the way of the Cross. Station after station we saw how the Innocent Redeemer was without mercy handed over to the hands that tortured him, to the betrayal of his friends, to the contempt of his own people, to the abandonment of the human heart, so many times cowardly and dastardly. In the end we also contemplate him disfigured and embraced to a Cross that he never wanted to let go for love of us. And when I say «we» I mean this humanity, so hard of heart and so parched of mercy.

We think of him as lost and abandoned, defeated and dead. He who had given all that he was for us, ended up drowning his last words in the sea of our hatreds and grudges, in the turmoil of our pride and merciless hardness.

But to our surprise and salvation, to the astonishment of the cosmos and to show the universe the immortal Glory of God and the work of our redemption, Christ rose from the dead as an Invincible, Uncontainable, Insondable Sun.

He whom we thought abandoned and punished now rises and illuminates us with all his splendor. The devil himself never expected this victorious revenge of Life. There is celebration and jubilation in all Creation, for the emptiness, the meaninglessness and the chaos of darkness no longer have the last word.

Now is the Living Christ, glory of God the Father, joy of angels and strength of believers. His resurrection is our Hallelujah and our song. While on the other hand, this same Living Christ becomes disturbance and confusion for those who want to remain in the shadows, with their vices and sins, for those who want to remain in despair, for those whose conscience is no longer moved by anything. Our prayer remains for all those who prefer to live without life far from God.

But for the whole Church, for us brothers and sisters, today is a feast day! And I say more, today is the day par excellence of the Feast, today is the day of God’s Victory, today is the joyful Passover of the Lamb, today is the day of the New Creation.

Our Savior has conquered death, has defeated evil at its root, has paid the debt of sin of all mankind. Yes my brothers, Christ has paid our debts with his death and resurrection.

That is why today I look into his eyes, and in his luminous Face I contemplate the forgiveness of my sins and the rescue of my old life. Today when I look into the eyes of Christ, I contemplate that part of my history in which I did not have him and did not recognize him as Savior. And right there I contemplate his infinite mercy, because he has called me and chosen me, because he has made me part of the project of his kingdom and his mission.

This offer of redemption is renewed to us every day. All of us who are here today around this altar, in front of the Risen Christ, have the doors open to the heart of the Father.

Christ Jesus, by assuming our humanity, not only invites us to participate in Divine love, but has already introduced our redeemed and glorified nature into the intimate bosom of the Life of the Trinity. Now no one has the excuse of saying that he cannot participate in the Life of God, or that his sins are so great that he could not approach such a High God.

There are no excuses. God has made himself small and drinkable to all of us, God has made himself accessible and palpable through the Incarnation of his Son. Now with his Resurrection we have been made capable of uniting ourselves completely and definitively to his essence.

I am not speaking heresy, my brothers and sisters. God has become man so that man may come to God. And this man thirsting for God is you and me. This fallen and rescued Adam is you and me if we accept his invitation.

Today that Christ is risen, I will renew once again my love for the Triune God.

To the Father for choosing me and loving me from all eternity.

To the Son for redeeming me and putting me in his own way, without my deserving it.

To the Holy Spirit, for always filling me with life, and pouring on me the graces without which I would not be the same.

Today I will renew my baptism, and my Christian commitment.

Today I will renew my love as a brother, as a son, as a father, as a husband, as a practicing Catholic.

Today I will look fondly at my loved ones and family and give thanks for the life and energy I find in them.

Today I will renew my loyalty to my friends.

Today I will forgive my enemies, if I have any, and those who have offended me.

Today I will follow the heart of Jesus and listen to the cry of the sick or the poor.

Today I will embrace with mercy the one who suffers discrimination or who is unemployed or homeless or who suffers loneliness.

Today perhaps I will also run to the empty tomb of my life, and let myself be touched by the light of the Risen One, and contemplate the signs of the linens and shrouds cast aside.

And I will adore him and believe in the life he gives me.

I will adore him with the firmness of the Magdalene and I will believe in him with the certainty of St. John.

And so I too will be able to hear one day that what the Master has told me and continues to tell me will be fulfilled. Amen.

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