Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


Easter Sunday
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
March 31th, 2013
Year C

In the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, located in ancient city of Rome, there is a beautiful sculpture of the Risen Christ. Sculpted by Michelangelo during the renaissance period, it depicts Christ standing firm, but not stiff. He is young and muscular, like a boxer before a fight. The risen Lord stands alone holding a very small cross with his left arm. The cross is undersized, much too small to have been used to crucify him. And He holds it as easily as we would hold a bouquet of flowers. That seems to be the whole point. The life-giving power of the Risen Lord has overwhelmed the deadly power of the cross. If Christ had not risen from the dead, what good would his suffering have meant? What good would his love, symbolized by his suffering, have been if evil and death had been able to extinguish it? Only the bright light of the Resurrection gives meaning to the blood-stained darkness of the cross. Had He remained in the tomb and not risen from the dead, He would have been the prerogative of a pious few. Christianity would have been a religion of sorrow. As it is, however, Christ is Risen!

Brothers and sisters, Christ is alive! True faith in Jesus teaches us that He truly died, that His soul separated from His body, that He was in the tomb for three days and that by His own power, He soul was reunited with His body and He rose from the dead. Though much of this is a supernatural mystery, there are some elements that fall within the category of sense experience – death, burial, the empty tomb, appearances, etc. It reminds us that Christianity is a bodily religion. It is embodied; lived and breathed with every fabric of who are we as human beings. Christianity touches not just the mind but soul and body as well.

This explains our sacramental worship and the rituals in which they are celebrated. Sacraments are outward signs, instituted by Christ that gives grace. They derive their efficacy from the work of Jesus Christ – His work of salvation. They are, as such, an extension of His ministry. They are real encounters with the Savior of all. Sacraments make use of ordinary elements of everyday life – water, oil, bread, wine, words and gestures – that touch the senses in order to lift up the spirit.

Through the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism, and the other sacraments, a Christian becomes a part of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – His redemptive mystery. For St. Paul reminds us: “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with through faith in the working of God…” (Col 2:12). We, therefore, look for life amidst death, as the angels in today’s gospel question the women who went out to the empty tomb: “why do you seek the living among the dead?” We see in the Easter Vigil Mass how darkness gives way to light; sorrow to joy. This is precisely the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection. He brings light into our darkness, joy amid the sorrows of life. Only by lowering ourselves, by dying the one death, the death to our self will, the false idea that we somehow own ourselves, do we experience the joy of the one Life. This Life is the gift of the death of Christ; this Life is the light and joy of the resurrection – it is the victory over sin and the completion of the work of our salvation.

We experience this life through the medium of the sacraments. As such, each encounter with Christ in the sacraments is an encounter of joy, of life and an experience of His victory over sin and death. They orient us toward Life – eternal life. Indeed, they cause us to be humble, to submit ourselves, mind and body, heart and soul to God in a gift of death to Him, so as to be brought to life. This is precisely the experience of the devout women who venture to the tomb with their spices. They go out in search of one who died and return with joy of having experienced the resurrection, the power of Life. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us in this way:

“For just by dying he all evil to deliver us from evil, so he was glorified in rising again to advance us toward good things, according to Romans 4:25 which says he was put to death for our transgressions and raised for our justification” (ST, 3, q. 53, a. 1, c.).

Each and every celebration of the sacraments is an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ – the paschal mystery of His passion, death and resurrection. We are blessed to have 6 people in our community who have come to the Church for this very reason. They are an example to us of men and women who have gone out to the tombs in search of Christ only to return having experienced the life giving power of the resurrection. All of which is accomplished through the medium of the sacraments.

Let us seek the Lord, then, through the sacraments. Let us find our joy by entering into His death and resurrection by these means. St. Josemaria Escriva reminds us of this fact that: “when you seek the Lord, your heart always overflows with happiness” (Furrow, 72). It may not always be easy. I think that the liturgy of the Sacred Triduum clearly demonstrates this fact. Jesus teaches us in these days that the gift of oneself, the gift of the one death, involves suffering of some sort. That suffering, that death to self, however, gives rise to newness of life – a life lived in Communion with God. For if we wish to have progress in the spiritual life, we need joy. And this joy is found in our worthy participation in sacraments.

Let us, therefore, make a firm resolution within our own hearts and minds during this Easter Season, to participate more in the sacraments of the Church, to open our hearts more fully to the life of grace that Christ gives to us through these means. From Easter and beyond, let us make spiritual progress, let us enter into the joy of the Lord, let us be a gift to Him by dying the one death so as to hurry toward the Life that He offers us.













Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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