In public life, some basically well-meaning figures have the graciousness to wish us well at Easter and to recognise the importance of the Christian feast day. Perhaps they might assure us that their thoughts are with us at this time. That is kind of them and in Christian charity we should thank them for their kindness, but Easter should be a great deal more than that for us.
We must believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ is risen from the grave, in the flesh, and lives for eternity. We cannot treat Easter as a jolly holiday that heralds spring, or the remembrance of a significant event from the past. It must change us today and every day, change who we are and what we do. The Christian faith cannot be a mild custard or blancmange of religiosity. (I am showing my age. Nowadays, I should say that it cannot be reduced to a pious crème fraiche.)
We bow down and adore the King of Kings, risen from the tomb, who,
“[…] continues for ever, and has an everlasting priesthood, whereby he is able also to save for ever them that come to God by him; always living to make intercession for us.” (Heb 7:24-25)
To our shame, the faith of our brothers and sisters in the Church is stronger in places where Christians have witnessed by suffering persecution, being burned out of their Churches and homes, than it is in places where the faith is corrupted or diluted to the point where it is a respectable side-line, or a social pastime accommodated to secular values.
Catholics who suffer for their faith attend Mass at the risk of their lives as our own English martyrs once did. Catholics who have things easy, are ready to miss Mass to attend a sports event, find it hard to avoid eating between meals on our two remaining fast days, and think that spending fifteen minutes saying the Rosary is an impossible ideal.
Our Lord did not say “If anyone would be a follower of mine, let him affirm himself, put down his cross and have a rest.” To follow Him, we must make sure that He makes a difference to our life every day. Most of all, we must adore Him, thank Him, repent of our sins, and beg Him for the graces that we need. We must take the trouble to know our faith, to be able to tell others what we believe. And we must daily try to overcome our besetting faults at home, at work, and on the street.
A good question we should sometimes ask ourselves is, “If it were a crime to be a Catholic, would there be enough evidence to convict me?” Or to put it another way, is my faith a hobby to make me feel good, or is it a matter of life and death?
Many of you, I know, do indeed take your faith seriously, and genuinely love Our Lord. You have been to Mass today, while many were missing for no good reason. You pray every day, you take care to know your catechism, and you go to confession regularly, with genuine sorrow for your sins. May God bless and strengthen you and may the risen Lord Jesus give you the grace to know and experience His presence.
Let us rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour. Let us adore and praise Him now on earth, and may He bring us to adore and praise Him for ever in heaven.