Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016

Father Stéphane Pouliot
March 27, 2016

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

What a joy to be able to invite you to respond: “He is risen indeed” each time I say: “Christ is risen!

This morning/evening, we celebrate the astounding truth of the resurrection of Christ, a truth which we cannot, should not, and must not be silent about because it transforms lives. Sharing this truth knows no boundaries, and it begins with the people who happen to be within a few feet of you. I always feel this boldness rise within me on Easter Sunday, and I ask you to forgive me in advance if I sound too intense for you. I cannot contain my joy! I know I should be used to it by now. I have known all my life that Christ was risen, so should it not get somehow stale to repeat it year after year?

Maybe the world thinks so, but 2000 years later, Christians in Syria can forgive their enemies who have slaughtered their family because Christ is risen! Christians are risking their lives to build bridges of love with people full of hatred, because Christ is risen! Christians are willing to lay down their lives and bank that God will look after their families, because Christ is risen!

Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times within hours of assuring the same Jesus of his absolute loyalty, of his willingness to die for him.
Peter feared death, and when the risk of dying for Jesus came knocking at the door, he backed off from his commitment. But here’s the thing: 50 days after the resurrection, before thousands of people, Peter will stand firm, his joy stronger than his fear of being arrested and put to death. Peter will give a witness unparalleled in history on that Sunday.

After hearing Peter testify before them that this Jesus who was put to death by “hanging him on a tree”, God the Father “raised him on the third day”, and even better “allowed him to appear, not to all the people, but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:39-41), 3000 people were baptized! 3000 hearts were pierced that day, because Christ is risen brothers and sisters! He is risen indeed!

What happened to Peter can happen to each one of us. What happened to Peter can happen to you who wrestle this morning/evening with doubts about the resurrection. Today, we are not celebrating a fictional resurrection. If Christ is truly risen, and He is indeed, then celebrating the resurrection this morning/evening allows us to touch and taste, to see and hear his impact in the hearts of our neighbours sitting beside us, in front of us or behind us in a pew.
We often sit in Church unaware of the impact we have on those sitting around us on any given Sunday. Whether we acknowledge it or not, if someone had come to this church this morning/evening wondering if all this talk about Jesus rising from the dead was more than just talk, would they not expect us to be especially excited on Easter Sunday? On the day we are directly celebrating the heart of why we are Christians? Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

“You have died” saint Paul tells us this morning/evening, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). We have died to sin when Jesus died on the Cross. We have died to fear when He rose from the dead. And so, let us demonstrate what we believe like Mary Magdalene did when she went to the Apostles to proclaim to them: “I have seen the Lord (cf. John 20:18)!” Let us show those near us that like Peter, we are no longer willing to hide what we believe to be true for Christ is risen! “Let us rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 118:24), and like saint Paul, may we not keep our faith in Jesus hidden in the tomb, but since we are safely hidden from any permanent, eternal harm in the security of the resurrection of our Saviour (cf. Colossians 3:3), let us invite others to rejoice and be glad for Christ is risen: He is risen indeed!

The two disciples going to Emmaus, having met Jesus on the road, could not wait to return to Jerusalem to witness to the eleven surviving Apostles that Christ had risen (Luke 24:33-35)!
Neither should we wait for anything and anyone, before resolutely setting out to let the whole world know that we are not without hope, for Christ is risen: He is risen indeed!

I now invite each one of you to turn to someone near you in your pew or in a neighbouring pew. Go ahead and pick someone, anyone, and one of you says: “Christ is risen”, while the other one responds: “He is risen indeed”.

You are ambassadors of Christ’s mercy, since your mission is to restore hope in the heart of the hopeless! Saint Paul once proclaimed to the new Christians of Greece almost two thousand years ago: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! … So, we are ambassadors for Christ… We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake, (God) made (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

If death, sin and fear no longer have the last word, Jesus Christ does, because by his Cross and resurrection, He is our life, our peace, and our strength! Brothers and sisters, one last time as the house of God our Risen Lord has made (Psalm 118, 22), let us proclaim it: Christ is risen: He is risen indeed!