Easter Sunday 2022
[Acts 10:34a-37:43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18]
At Easter, my memory sometimes takes me back to the days of childhood, when we would get up on Easter Sunday morning and almost immediately begin a search – the search for the Easter egg. Our parents would tell us that there were eggs hidden around the house, left by the Easter bunny. The search would begin in earnest. I suppose it occurred to us to wonder how a rabbit could lay eggs, but when we found them and discovered they were made of chocolate, we didn’t care how the bunny had pulled it off!
Of course, Easter is not about a bunny, or eggs. It is, though, about a search, and about a finding of what is sought.
There are many searches unfolding throughout the world these days. As war ravages Ukraine, strife continues in Yemen and other parts of Africa, and unrest grips the Middle East, we seek peace, and yet fail to find it. We look, too, for reconciliation with the Indigenous Peoples of this land, with fellow citizens from whom we’ve become separated because of varying reactions to the pandemic, and with estranged family members, yet it eludes us. There is a deep longing for hope, as the opioid crisis, youth suicides and natural calamities tempt us rather to despair. In all of this we are like a child who can’t find the Easter egg because we are searching in the wrong places. As a result, our deepest longings remain unsatisfied.
Easter announces to the world that humanity need search no longer. In her preaching and in the solemn liturgies that mark this feast, the Church proclaims that the answer to all human questioning and seeking is a person, one person, whose name is Jesus. This truth shone forth in human history the morning that Jesus, who had died by crucifixion, rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples.
One such appearance was to Mary Magdalene, as recorded in the text we heard this morning from the Gospel of John. The encounter between them is instructive. First of all, Mary was involved in a search, and she knew the one for whom who she was looking. Her search was focussed upon only Jesus. Right away we learn from this that all human longing is ultimately a search for the Lord, because only he can fully satisfy our need. Notice, though, that even though she was searching, she did not find Jesus; he found her. Risen from the dead, he came toward her and called her by name. In that instant she recognized him as alive and with her. This finding, or, more precisely, this “being found” by Christ, filled her with a delight – a joy – beyond words, and she raced off to tell the Apostles.
Here, then, is the call issued by the Word of God to a world in many ways devoid of joy because of unfulfilled searching. It is the summons to seek Christ, to “seek the things that are above” as St. Paul puts it, and then to allow ourselves to be found by Jesus Christ. In him, God has come in search of us. In his death and resurrection, Jesus has destroyed the power of sin and death that had separated humanity from God. Now, through the Church’s sacraments, he continues to reach out to us so that we, too, might hear him call us by name and discover for ourselves the joy and hope that come from being found by him, loved by him, and accompanied by him.
The way we allow ourselves to be found by the Lord is by choosing to believe. By the act of faith, we cease pretending that the search depends upon our efforts; we give up the illusion of self-reliance; we forgo thinking that we need to figure things out by ourselves; and we submit to allowing Jesus to accompany and carry us in the power of his resurrection.
So, as we now renew our baptismal promises and profess again our faith in the Risen Lord and in all that he has revealed, let us pray that we shall be found anew by the love of Christ and discover in him, once again, the complete answer to our deepest longings.
Most Reverend Richard W. Smith
St. Joseph’s Basilica
April 17th, 2022