“Christ Has Risen Indeed Alleluia”
First Reading :Genesis: 1. 1 – 2.2 Psalm:104
Second Reading: Genesis: 22. 1 – 18. Psalm: 16
Third Reading: Exodus 14. 15 – 31; 15.20, 1 + + Psalm: Exodus 15
Fourth Reading: (Epistle) – Romans 6, 3 -11.
Fifth Reading: Isaiah 55. 1 – 11
Gospel: Mark 16. 1 – 8 (B)

What are we celebrating tonight? In the hymn of praise “Exultet’ sung at the beginning of the liturgy, several times reference is made to ‘This is the night’… what is this night we are celebrating? We are celebrating the night when the Lord saved our fathers, freed the people of Israel from their slavery; the night that destroyed the darkness of sin; the night when Christians were washed clean of sin and are restored to grace and to grow together in holiness; the night when Jesus Christ broke the chain of death and rose triumphantly from the grave; the night when the fault or sin of Adam became a necessary sin to gain a redeemer for us, that fault which became a happy fault; that night that became our light and joy; the night that acquired the power to dispel all evil, to wash all quilt away, restored lost; innocence brought; mourners joy, cast out hatred, bought us peace and humbled earthy pride; the night when heaven was wedded to earth and man was reconciled to God; the night during which we plead with the Lord to accept our evening sacrifice of praise as the Church’s solemn offering. (The Exultet)
Tonight such is the Night we celebrate, commemorate and experience in our lives. This night therefore is important for us because it is the Night that gives us the joy and peace to last for eternity. Because on this Night our Saviour rose from the dead on account of which sin, Satan and death have no lasting power over us. This is the night that tells that now, because of the Resurrection of Jesus, all of us are capable of experiencing true joy, true peace and true light. This night tells us that once again we can be free from within and that we can experience a genuine and authentic interior transformation of our lives that can influence all our thoughts, actions, decisions and life itself.
If such is the night that we are experiencing, then, what are we waiting for? What are we longing for? What are we yearning for? What is the dynamic power and energy that urges and motivates our life? What is the determining factor in our life? What kind of life that we want to live?
That ‘Christ has Risen indeed, Alleluia’ has to be the motivating light and energy of our life. For, as we heard from the letter of St. Paul we who have been baptized into Christ were baptized into his death. We were buried with him into baptism into death so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
This night makes us experience the newness of life, what is the newness of life? It is the newness which the apostles experienced. The newness will be unfolded to us day by day from tomorrow as we listen to the Acts of the Apostles. The newness which apostles experienced is the newness we are called to experience. Let us then consider two aspects of this newness.
Firstly, the Apostles experienced a kind of inner freedom that they had never experienced earlier. The obsessions of the mind, body and soul that express themselves through various ways of attachments to this material world were destroyed. Now they began to open the doors of their hearts and minds to a power they had not experienced earlier. They became unselfish in their love, and unconditional in forgiveness of one another. They were ready to embrace enemies rather than hate or condemn them. They were ready to undergo suffering rather than escape from them. They were ready to give their life to the preaching of the Word rather than afraid of dying for the Lord in the process of accomplishing their mission. In other words, they became courageous rather remaining timid and coward. Their life became an open book to all. They reached to as many persons, groups and communities as possible. They travelled to places wherever their sense of mission led them. Such was the new sense or level of freedom they experienced.
Secondly, owing to their experience of the Resurrection of Jesus they were transformed. Their own transformation became the proof of the Resurrection of Jesus.
They became joyful and energetic. They did not require anyone or anything else to motivate them. They began to understand the words and deeds of Jesus anew. They obtained greater insight into the person and mission of Jesus. They became eloquent and effective preachers of the Word of God. No power on earth could now prevent them in fulfilling their mission. They began to form new Christian communities wherever they preached the Word of God. They became living witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus and the Person of Jesus. They were no more influenced by the values of this early world but by the values of the Gospel.
The experience of the Resurrection of Jesus is not to be limited only to the Apostles or people of the early Christian Community. Numerous persons throughout these 21 centuries have experienced it and thereby allowed their lives to be transformed with the newness of life that has prompted them to be witnesses of Jesus in this world. The Resurrection of Jesus is not an event in history that happened once upon a time but it is to be experienced by everyone. But today we need to ask ourselves whether we have a personal experience of the resurrection of Jesus. If we do not have, why is it so?
What prevents us from arriving at that experience as in fact, all of us are called to experience it? What prevents us from doing so is our lack of will and openness to experience it. What prevents us are the inner obstacles we have within ourselves that do allow us to go out of ourselves. Something of Mary Magdalene and the women who went to the tomb at dawn taking the spices which they had prepared is in us. The men in dazzling apparel said to them “Why do you seek him among the dead?”. We cannot have the experience of Jesus if we seek the living among the dead. Jesus is not dead and gone. By dying he destroyed death and by rising he restored life. We need to look for the living Jesus.
For this experience to occur we need to leave behind our past. As we learn from another episode, Mary Magdalene was troubled not to find the body of Jesus in the tomb. She would have been satisfied at least if she saw him in the tomb. Mary Magdalene was sticking to her past, sticking to the past images of Jesus. She did not want to let go her image of the dead Jesus. Meanwhile she was missing that which is far more important that is, the present state of Jesus. We too may be like her. We too want to stick to our past, the memories of hurt and pain, memories past sufferings, past events causing us to retaliate or take revenge, past ways of hating people than loving them, our past sinfulness, or past losses and the missed opportunities, past acts of omission and commission. We brood over then and make ourselves miserable. We do not want to et them go from our lives. We enjoy clinging to them. The moment we let them go we hear what Mary heard: ‘Mary’ said the one she presumed to be the gardener. Mary then, recognizes Jesus. She no more sticks to the past images, she listens to Jesus, she rushes to the disciples and communicates them that Jesus is alive, she has experienced him, she becomes the first communicator of the Message of Resurrection. Now she experiences joy, peace, serenity calmness and bliss.
Are we then, prepared to do likewise? Are we let ready to let go our past? Only then, we will be able to hear our own name being called by Jesus. Change, growth and transformation are possible only when we let go our past and live in the present. Peace and reconciliation is possible, when we let go our past hurt and pain. Human relations are possible when there is openness to the other. Liberation for the poor and oppressed is possible. When we share of what wee have, social change is possible only when we change our attitudes and mindsets and when we share with others what is not required for a simple way of living.
Happy Easter! May the Risen Lord help us to rise with him each and every moment of our lives.