The Easter celebrations continue on Sunday, though the Masses aren’t nearly as elaborate as the Easter Vigil Mass held after sunset on Holy Saturday. For the most part, Easter Sunday Masses are very similar to Masses on any other Sunday but for the larger attendance and the greater number of new dresses and pretty hats. In the Roman Catholic Church, it’s a requirement that the priest lead the congregation in a renewal of baptismal promises but some priests use that form rather than the Profession of Faith on other Sundays as well.
Most of us are with family or will be soon. We struggle to pay attention to the Mass but our stomachs and heads anticipate ham and deviled eggs and far too much chocolate.
It’s a wonderful day and hard to understand why the baptized don’t all come to church, hard to understand why so many have never sought to be baptized. And then while we bask in the glow of our anticipated Easter feasts followed by our entry into Heaven, many years from now we hope, we who are Catholics find ourselves crossing our heads, our lips, and our hearts and the deacon begins to read from the Gospel of St. John:
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So, she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. [John 20:1-9]
As we hear those words for the umpteenth time, we can ask ourselves if we’ve ever really listened. Have we sunk into complacency?
Mary Magdelene saw the empty tomb and thought someone had stolen away the Lord’s body. The other disciple, almost certainly St. John, admitted that he and Peter had not even thought of Jesus rising from the dead until they saw the empty tomb. In fact, some of the translations leave matters unclear: did they believe when they saw the empty tomb or did that merely start the thinking process that led to the realization that the Lord Jesus Christ had risen from the dead?
We should enjoy the celebrations of Easter, in church and at the dinner-table and on the front porch watching the children play.
The Lord Jesus Christ has risen.
Yet again, we should ask ourselves if our faith has come by our good luck. Some of us were raised by devout Christian parents and some had friends who had spoken the Good News to us, lovingly and aggressively or lovingly and gently. They had loved us and the Lord enough to try to bring us to Him.
When we have a few quiet moments, we should ask ourselves if we’ve done our part. The pews are noticeably empty of young adults. Have we done our part to impart a love of God to our children and the young adults in our families? The pews rarely have strangers in them and most of those strangers seem to be already practicing Christians judging by their awareness of liturgical practices. Have we ever brought a friend or acquaintance to church with us? Have we ever spoken to a lost soul about God’s love?
What have we done to pass on the Gospel, the Good News, we celebrate so joyfully on Easter Sunday?
So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” [Luke 17:10]
Have we even done so well as those unworthy servants? I know I’ve not done so well as those unworthy servants.