My dear sisters and brothers in Christ, on this Easter Sunday, our responsorial psalm calls us out of mourning into the light of joy as Christians around the world celebrate this most important of feast days, for without the Resurrection our faith would be in vain.
This is truly the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice, church, and be glad in it!
As we continue to live through these distressing times as Christians we find our hope and joy in knowing that the story did not end on Good Friday. In fact, the story was just beginning.
It is a story of faith, hope, and resilience. It authenticates our belief that no matter how dark the night our god has not abandoned us. The victory will be ours in the Risen Christ.
That’s good news! Let us rejoice and be glad!
In the first reading Peter is the historian and herald of the good news of the resurrection of Jesus. He recounts the story of Jesus’ life, his good works and compassionate healing of the sick and unshackling of the oppressed.
Yes, the religious and secular leaders plotted his demise; convicted him and condemned him to death but God always has the last word! This same Jesus, who was rejected by the builders, and crucified as a common criminal; has become the cornerstone. He has conquered death and sits at the right hand of the Creator. He is the “judge of the living and the dead…and everyone who believes in him”, will have eternal life!
That’s good news, church!
In his letter to the Colossians Paul tells us how we are to approach God and enter into his presence. We must always seek what is above for that is where the Risen Christ sits at the right hand of God. Paul speaks of our lives as hidden with God in Christ; therefore, the source of our fulfillment is in heaven and not in this fleeting and very brief life on earth.
It is the Christ, who lives in us, that we are called to bear witness. As Christians, fulfillment and spiritual reality are not found in the exciting and dramatic, but rather in a life of humility and service hidden in Christ Jesus, until he comes again when we, too, will then appear with him in all of his glory.
I can only image what that first Easter was like. After the horror of that Good Friday and the apostles are hiding over the Sabbath for fear that the authorities would come for them. It is only the woman, Mary of Magdala, the Apostle to the Apostles, who had the courage to leave the safety of the upper room and go to the tomb early in the morning.
She was the first to see the Risen Lord and the first to preach the gospel. It was Mary who returned to their hiding place and bore witness to what she had seen for she had seen the Risen Lord, and she could not contain her joy!
Yes, at first Peter and the others did not believe her. They had to see for themselves. After all, she was simply a woman.
How often do we fail to believe the ordinary, everyday heralds of the Good News? Is it too much for our minds to comprehend? For you see, faith can never be condensed to simple reasoning. Faith must come from the heart. Faith cannot be reduced to simply words but rather faith must flow from the very essence of our being.
You and I were not there that first Easter morning. We have not seen the empty tomb or the folded burial cloth. Jesus has not appeared to us as he appeared first to Mary Magdalen, Peter and the other apostles. But our faith tells us that we have seen him for ourselves in every sunrise; in every healing of sickness; in the eyes of a child or the kindness of a stranger.
That is why on this day we celebrate life…eternal life. We believe in our very being that when we shed this earthly body we will live for all eternity because of the promise the Lord made to the good thief while hanging on the cross. “This day, he promised, you will be with me in paradise.”
We simply must believe that the small, everyday deaths that we experience have been overcome once and for all by the cross and resurrection of Christ. Life has overcome death.
Jesus is raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God. He has gone to prepare a place for you and me that we, too, might be with him in glory.
That is why this is the day that the Lord has made and we rejoice in it!
That is way the Easter story is our story! It is a story of light overcoming darkness. It is a story of truth overcoming lies. It is story of love overcoming hate. It is a story of hope overcoming despair. It is a story of victory!
Happy Easter, church! Happy Resurrection Day!
Go forth and tell somebody, tell everybody, that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. He has conquered death and the victory is ours in Jesus’ name.
That’s good news, church! That is the heart of our faith! Death, o death, where is your sting? Death, o death, where is your victory?
On this Easter day let us sing with the angels our song of praise…Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia, to the Risen King!
Anita P. Baird, DHM
Anita P. Baird, DHM
Sister Anita Baird, a native of Chicago, IL, is a member of the Religious Congregation of the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary having served as Regional Superior, Provincial Councilor, and most recently as United States Provincial.
She is a member of St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago where she has served in many different leadership roles including chair of the Spiritual Life Institute and as a member of the preaching staff.
In 1997 Sister Anita became the first African American to serve as Chief of Staff to the Archbishop of Chicago. In 2000, Cardinal Francis George appointed her the founding director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Racial Justice, which directed the Archdiocese’s initiatives to eradicate racism in its structures and institutions. Sister Anita also served as Cardinal George’s liaison for race relations to the city of Chicago.
Sister Anita has been recognized for her religious and community activism around the nation. In 2002 she gave the opening keynote address at the Ninth National Black Catholic Congress in Chicago. She is a past president of the National Black Sisters’ Conference and recipient of the organization’s Harriet Tubman “Moses of Her People” Award. Other honors include the NBC-5 Jefferson Award for outstanding community service, and the Fresh Spirit Award in recognition of her outstanding spiritual and community leadership in the city of Chicago.
In may 2013 Sister Anita was awarded an honorary Doctor of Minister (D. Min) degree from Catholic Theological Union in recognition of her outstanding contributions in the work for racial justice in the Church and the city of Chicago.
Sister Anita’s first love is preaching God’s Word, which she has done around the country for more than a decade. Her motto of faith is “Do whatever He tells you.” Sister Anita strives to live her life listening to God’s word, acting upon God’s word, and doing whatever God instructs her to do!
Sister Anita earned a B.A. in Sociology from DePaul University, and an M.A. in Theological Studies from Loyola University Chicago.
The second of three volumes from the Catholic Women Preach project of FutureChurch offers homilies for each Sunday and holy days of the liturgical year by Catholic women from around the world. The first volume for Cycle A received awards for best book on Liturgy from both the Association of Catholic Publishers and the Catholic Media Association.
“Catholic Women Preach is one of the more inspiring collection of homilies available today. Based on the deep spirituality and insights of the various women authors, the homilies are solidly based on the scriptures and offer refreshing and engaging insights for homilists and listeners. The feminine perspective has long been absent in the preached word, and its inclusion in this work offers a long overdue and pastorally necessary resource for the liturgical life of the Church.” - Catholic Media Association
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