Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

31 March 2024

Appears in: Messages and Homilies


[Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18]

Our lives today are marked and shaped by online communication. Throughout the Internet, stories travel with lightning speed across a wide variety of platforms. With this comes the capacity to track what is most popular and talked about at any given moment. The name we give to this is “trending”. We seem to observe this most often in the arenas of news, art, fashion, and sport. In this town, in fact, I don’t think anything ever trends higher than sports. I have noticed, as I am sure you have also, that even events of great geo-political consequence will always trend far below the latest trade deal made by the Oilers!

Now, while the digital technology is of recent development, “trending” itself is actually nothing new. Happenings judged to be of great importance have always attracted interest and found ways to spread among people. Today, in this mass of Easter, our attention is focussed on how the Christian community has from the outset practiced “trending” with respect to the most important event ever: the wondrous truth of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Nothing surpasses that in importance, not only for world history but also the hereafter. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is God’s decisive victory over sin and death. Because Jesus rose from the dead, death no longer has power over those who die believing in him. His resurrection is the gateway to eternal life! Clearly, this should always trend highest in human consideration.

Notice in the scriptural texts for this mass how the trending begins from the very first indication that Jesus has risen from the dead. Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and finds it empty. The trending starts as she hurries to tell Peter and John. They instantly pick up the trending by running to the tomb to see for themselves. John goes in, sees, and believes. The trending is beginning to take hold in the human heart. Later, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit would infuse this trending with enormous energy by filling the apostles with understanding and empowering their speech. An example is given from the Acts of the Apostles, where we hear one of the first sermons of St. Peter testifying to the resurrection. That announcement, and others inspired in the apostles by the Holy Spirit, launched a great trending, a vast spreading of the Good News, destined to continue throughout history in the faithful witness of believers, who testify to the truth that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and is, therefore, the world’s only sure hope.

This brings us to today, to you and me, all of us gathered together for this mass in celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord. Our call, as believers in the Risen Jesus, is to keep the trending alive, to make sure it not only continues but also rises to the number one spot. For this to happen, for us to be effective and credible witnesses to the Resurrection, that trending must first take hold in our own hearts, as it did in the heart of the beloved disciple when he looked inside the empty tomb. Yet, we encounter a challenge. Within our hearts and minds, we often experience a trending that takes a higher place than that of the Gospel. What I mean here are the worries, fears, and preoccupations that draw and capture our attention. Will my paycheque take me to the end of the month? My child is struggling in school and I don’t know how to help. I’ve just received a very worrying diagnosis, and my future is now entirely uncertain. These and many other anxieties can impact us all. When they take over, the truth and wonder of the Resurrection trends low, and is at times even displaced by the higher and more immediate trending of apprehension and disquiet.

In situations such as these, may I suggest that we pay close attention to the example of Saint Mary Magdalene. We see in the Gospel that, in the immediate wake of the crucifixion of Jesus, she is bereft of hope. Sadness and perhaps even despair are trending at the top of her heart’s list. Yet everything changes when she meets the Risen Lord and hears him speak her name. She knows then that he is alive in a new way and with untold power. All fear and sadness vanish. For her, there is now only one thing worthy of trending in her life and that of others: the good and wondrous news that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. So, she runs off immediately to announce to the apostles what she has seen and heard.

Mary teaches us to make all the worry and fear trending in our lives yield to the fact of the Resurrection and the abiding presence of the Risen Jesus, and allow the Lord himself to become the preeminent trend. She is teaching us, in other words, what it means to believe. Faith is the decision to allow Jesus himself to trend first in our lives, trusting that he, who conquered even death, has the power to overcome all that worries us, all that threatens us, and transform it by his mercy and love into something wondrously good as he leads us through this world to eternal life with him in the next.

In this Mass of Easter Sunday, we are given the opportunity to renew our faith in Jesus the Risen Lord by the renewal of our baptismal promises. As we make this solemn profession of our faith in God, may the truth of His love trend swiftly to the top of our minds and hearts and thus dispel our every fear. May it inspire us to keep alive and spread ever further the trending that began with Mary Magdalene and the Apostles, so that people everywhere will know the peace, joy, and freedom that come from accepting in faith the good news that Jesus Christ is risen, alive, and with his people.

Most Reverend Richard W. Smith

Saint Joseph Basilica

March 31st, 2024