Homily For Easter Sunday 2021

Easter Candle with Jesus risen image on it

On the feast of the Jewish Passover, it is a tradition and one of the most important moments, that one of the youngest members of the congregation or family asks a very important question: Why is this night different from all other nights? Why is this Passover different from all other nights? We could ask the same question today. Why is this day, the day of the resurrection different from all other days? Why do we sing every year as a responsorial psalm: This day was made by the Lord, we rejoice and are glad? Why is this year’s Easter different from other Easters? Maybe because we are limited in the church and not all of us can be present here physically. Yes, indeed it is another, the second very peculiar Easter in our lives.

Today’s passage from the Gospel according to John shows us a lot of movement, a lot of running around. Yesterday we heard about Mary Magdala how she found the tomb and then she went and told the disciples that the tomb is empty. Today we hear about two disciples, Peter and John not going but running to the tomb. Then about John getting ahead of Peter and then about Peter running again, and then about both of them finding the empty tomb. In these two passages describing Jesus’ resurrection, the verb ‘to run’ is used many times. Perhaps it is a special gospel for runners. But I think all of us are runners in a sense, and we don’t have to run any long distances regularly or even marathons as professional athletes to be runners. All of us are runners in a way. How? First of all, all of us run for certain things or in search of something. All of us in our lives run to search our identities, our happiness, to find the value of our lives, to be fulfilled with something, because we don’t want to be empty. So, we run, we do different things, we are active to find the meaning of life. And sometimes our lives because of our running are like a rat race, chasing things that we are not sure whether they will bring us happiness or not – like career, money, relationship, success – never having enough time for anything. Very often we run so that we can distract ourselves from our deepest problems and longings. So that’s one type of running that we do. We run in search for something.

And secondly, we run from different things, from something that is unpleasant and unwanted in our life. We run from our problems, our struggles, we try to run from the virus because none of us want to face any difficult reality. We run away from our sins, from our loneliness, sometimes into spiritual and sacramental life but sometimes into alcohol problems, sexual life or into other addictions. We want to run away from everything that is difficult for us and from all our life struggles and worries. All those unpleasant things are like our tomb, like our grave because we don’t want to face them, we are like all the disciples of Jesus at times wanting to be somewhere else. As we remember only John remained on the side of Jesus on Calvary, the rest of them just run away.

But sometimes we find ourselves in such a situation that we cannot run anymore. Perhaps there is at least one little blessing that came from this tragic situation of the virus that we had to stop ourselves in our constantly busy life and we had to face what is not easy. Maybe over the past year we could experience more how it is difficult to live in isolation – or on the other hand – how hard it is to spend a lot of time with someone and how challenging it is, because there is nowhere where we can run away and nothing else, we can do. Sometimes our only choice is to run to Jesus, to run to the tomb and discover that that the tomb – that is – something that we are afraid off, something that we try to avoid or distract ourselves from – that this tomb is empty. Peter and the beloved disciple John they were running to the tomb. They were not running from it. They were not afraid to enter inside.

Brothers and sisters in the risen Lord, today I would like to ask you some simple questions. What are you running to in your life? In search of what? What do you want to avoid or distract yourself from? What are you running away from in your daily life? What is your own death? What is your own tomb? What kills you every single day? Is it fear? Is it sin? What do you struggle with that you want to run away from? The good news is that the tomb of Jesus is empty, Christ is risen! He is not there; his body is not there! That means that our tomb is also empty and this news gives us incredible hope.

So, when we ask ourselves this question why is this day, the day of the resurrection different from all others days? First ask yourself why it is different for you, personally. We know that Jesus rose from the dead, but let’s ask what does it mean to you? Why is this day different for me and you? Maybe because we can find more time to think about our life, to reflect upon it, to appreciate our loved ones, to train ourselves in love of our neighbour. We actually have more time to enter our tomb this year, to face our pain, to face our suffering, to face our death. And even if the resurrection doesn’t take away all our problems and worries, but it changes them, it overcomes them just like light overcomes darkness. St Paul in the letter to the Romans says that only if you have experienced death in your life at some point, only if you have experienced any pain, rejection, abandonment, loneliness and many other life struggles, only then you can rise from them with Jesus. Saint John Paul II once said very relevant words: Do not abandon yourself to despair. We are the Easter people, and Alleluia is our hymn, our song. Make Alleluia your song today because we are the Easter people, the people who rise from our failures, from our death.

That is our identity.

Fr Gregory