Oh, Happy Day! Easter Sunday: The Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior
To appreciate this great Mystery, come back with me to Palm Sunday. Jesus is going up to Jerusalem to die. What was in His mind as he mounts the donkey and deliberately goes to the center of Roman power in the holy city?
Jesus goes to confront. Not only Roman power but to place the Kingdom of God in clear opposition to the kingdom of force, greed, fear, hypocrisy, exploitation, and every other form or evil and sin.
The curtain rises on the drama of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday two processions enter Jerusalem. Passover always cause heartburn for the Roman occupiers. Passover recalls the people’s liberation from slavery in Egypt by the hand of God. Many of the Jews hope God will act again to liberate them from Rome. At Passover, the Roman Governor, Pilate, rides up to Jerusalem from his seaside capital, with a cohort of 600 plus imperial cavalry and soldiers to reinforce the local riot squad.
Picture this, Pilate’s procession arrives in Jerusalem from the West, where Rome and imperial power hold sway. Jesus’ procession arrives from the East, a counter-procession. Pilate astride a powerful warhorse, Jesus astride a donkey, as prophesied. The drama is real and public. The contest is joined: Two arrivals, two entrances, two processions, two ways of life, two choices represented by these two processions on Palm Sunday.
On Monday, Jesus cleanses the temple.
On Tuesday, Jesus debates the temple authorities.
Please take note of this about the Palm Sunday crowd. A large family of followers is still with Him. They do not suddenly cease being His disciples and become a mad crowd crying “Crucify Him.” No, they remain with Him throughout the week, a true family bonded by love for Him and God.
On Wednesday, Judas secretly plans to betray Him on the next night, Holy Thursday, in the Garden of Gethsemane.
On Friday, in Pilate’s presence, Jesus stands before a second, smaller crowd in a secure courtyard, closed to the public, filled with hangers-on and supporters of the Temple authorities. This is the crowd that cries “Crucify Him”, not the Palm Sunday crowd, His family of disciples.
Here is where Jesus, the innocent, is gruesomely and wrongly executed by Roman power between two thieves.
Finally, on Sunday, in a profound climax to the drama, Jesus is raised from the dead by God’s power.
What does this Easter’s rising from the dead mean in this year of pandemic, when tens of millions have been infected by the Corona virus and millions have died, often alone with no consoling family of loved ones to hold hands and give a final embrace, a parting blessing?
Easter means that God is saying a resounding “Yes” to Jesus and his humble procession from the East, and all he stands for and “Yes” to his family of disciples, and a determined “NO” to the powers that killed him and “NO” to this virus.
This Easter, we have hope in the Risen Lord, hope for eternal life with Him for all our deceased family and friends. This Easter calls for a joyful celebration “of all the ordinary people, often overlooked. People who do not appear in magazines or newspaper headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others.” (Pope Francis)
Easter, the Risen Lord, says, “YES,” to life, “YES” to life without the virus; “YES,” to life without dominating others; “YES” to the family; “YES,” to life with Christ! “YES” to the Risen Lord, now and forever! Amen! Alleluia!
About Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C.
Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C. is President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. He entered Holy Cross Fathers in 1964. He earned a Bachelors in Philosophy from Stonehill College in 1967 and a Masters in Theology from the University of Notre Dame in 1971. In addition to English, Father Willy is conversant in French and Spanish. He's a native of Old Town, Maine and one of 12 children. He remains a diehard fan of the Boston Red Sox, even though he has served as Chaplain for the Los Angeles Dodgers.