The Resurrection of the Lord, April 16
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
I’ve long wondered why “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad,” was the responsorial psalm chosen for Easter, the most important celebration of the year for Christians.
Not that there’s anything inappropriate in it, but I’ve always taken it to mean each day is a gift from God, so appreciate it. The verse just never seems momentous enough.
However, considered in the context of the incredible event of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, these simple words in Psalm 118 speak the powerful truth: This is “the day.” This is it — the ultimate outcome of God’s plan.
Indeed, we use that phrase, “This is it!” to signify a culmination, a moment of truth.
I remember once driving home from work on an interstate highway, going the 65 mph speed limit, and being hit from behind (!) by another vehicle. As I struggled in vain to gain control of my car, that vehicle actually hit me again! Sure enough, my life flashed before my eyes and confused thoughts flew through my mind as I began careening and spinning off the road, but I distinctly recall saying to myself, “I guess this is it.”
I knew intrinsically what “it” was: the end of my life, something I fully understood and always knew would come. (Amazingly, that wasn’t “it.” I was unhurt.)
In today’s reading from Acts, Peter excitedly recalls for his fellow witnesses “what has happened” since Jesus arrived: He was baptized, anointed by God with his Spirit and went among the people ministering and teaching; he was put to death and now he has been resurrected.
In effect, this is it!
As we celebrate Easter, Christ’s life flashes before our eyes and we see as a single “event” his message, ministry, example, death and resurrection — something we always knew would come.
This is the day the Lord has made, the eternal day that fulfills God’s desire for his beloved.
By believing in Jesus Christ the savior, we are drawn into this day and it becomes our truth.
Let us rejoice and be glad.
QUESTIONS: How would you summarize the meaning and significance for your own life of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection? How will you respond?
Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), April 23
Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
1 Peter 1:3-9
We all know people who endure hardships and trials but who never seem to complain or grumble. They manage to remain positive and joyful through it all. I wish I could count myself among those people, but I admit to being sometimes a bit slow to see the silver lining in the cloud.
Yet, one cannot read any of today’s readings without being lifted up to another plane. Six times the words “rejoice” and “joy” are used, and several more times the biblical writers burst forth with words of thanksgiving and spontaneous exultation. And why shouldn’t they? It is this resurrection joy, spilling over into praise, that propelled Jesus’ followers to “evangelize” — literally, share the good news.
In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis taps into this same joy when he writes: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.”
On Divine Mercy Sunday, we rejoice in the knowledge that in the resurrected Lord, each of us is loved without recrimination, without strings attached and without limits or preconditions. Sometimes we’re like Thomas and it’s hard to see Jesus, the face of the Father’s mercy, but Jesus continually reveals himself to us in new and unexpected ways. We’re blessed to be “those who have not seen and have believed,” living lives of joy and praise in such a way that others are able to see Jesus and believe in him.
It’s reasonable to read the Acts account of the early church as a legendary story in the distant past, out of reach for us today. But the pope exhorts: “I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the church’s journey in years to come.” This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it!
QUESTIONS: When have you been able to experience joy despite difficult circumstances? In what way has Jesus shown you the face of the Father’s mercy?