Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
On this happy day, the Mass for Easter has two very noticeable additions. First comes “Alleluia”, a word we have not heard for over 40 days since Ash Wednesday. The word is derived from the Hebrew “Hallelu Jah”, which means “Praise ye, Ya.” “Ya” is a shortened form of “Yahweh.” one of the oldest names for God. The Alleluia is back today announcing the Gospel, and it has added significance as we praise the risen Lord and sing of His triumph.
The second addition is the annual renewal of our baptismal vows. Instead of the vicarious way they were made for most of us by our godparents at our baptism as infants, the Church invites us today to make them ourselves. Last night all the new members of our Church made them at the great Easter Vigil. The promises form a “Q and A” version of our creed. If we pay attention, we also hear ourselves making an implied resolution. One more significant by far than any we might make at New Year’s.
But this resolution is really about joining a revolution. One not made with drums and clashing cymbals, or in the shattering of plate glass windows. Rather it is a quiet kind. Any violence involved is internal, wherein we resolve with an all out effort to rid ourselves of the vices that threaten our friendship with the Christ. That includes that little everyday pettiness that finds us delighting in gossip; or shading the truth so that our cocktail conversation invites attention. Or those subtle or obvious character attacks on others that we forget for a time are our brothers and sisters.
Easter will only strengthen our resolve if we take those resolutions seriously. But what a surge of power we will feel in our souls when we remember that we have a Companion on our pathway to eternity! He is no less than this risen Son of God, crucified but risen from the grave never to die again! For that our hearts cry out when our shy liturgical voices may hesitate. That is no less than “Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
For a little Latin lesson to add to our Hebrew one already in our Easter basket, permit me to introduce “Felix Pascha”, or “Happy Easter!” Latin or English, I wish you and your families a most blessed and happy Easter. “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
First Reading: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Peter’s sermon offers a brief recount of Our Lord’s public life and works before turning to the Passion and Resurrection. The great proclamation is included: “this man God raised on the third day.”
Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4
This letter, written to bolster the faith of the community and to correct certain errors that were misleading people. Christ is now “seated at the right hand of God,” a statement meant to show that all the promises made about the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus.
Gospel: John 20:1-9
All four gospels report the visit of the women to the tomb, but from there they differ on what happened next. No surprise at this, because it is an element in any oral passing on of a tradition.