Never Lose Hope: Because of Easter, All Can Be Made New
User’s Guide to Easter Sunday
Sunday, April 1, is Easter Sunday, the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord (Year B). Mass Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9.
Christ is truly risen! Alleluia, alleluia!
We can hear the joyful proclamation. We can see the white lilies, the children in Easter bonnets, and even the buds of spring all around us — but do we really believe that there is hope of newness of life for us?
In today’s first reading, Peter’s speech points us back to Jesus’ ministry during his three years of public life, when, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he “went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). Perhaps nothing stirred up hope in those who met Jesus more than seeing the sick restored to life and health by his touch and his words.
For those who knew and followed Jesus, when their beloved teacher and healer was crucified on that dreadful Friday, it must have seemed like hope itself had died. If he could heal and raise others, why couldn’t he save himself? After his death, even his closest friends did not understand why Christ’s body was not in the tomb when they sought him. Even though the disciple John “saw and believed” when he entered the empty tomb, for all of the disciples, there would be a gradual process of understanding what Christ’s resurrection fully meant.
In today’s second reading, St. Paul writes to the Colossians, “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
For many of us, it is easier to understand the experience of death than of resurrection. We have all experienced the death of hopes and dreams that seem impossible, the death of ways of thinking as our eyes are opened to new realities, and the death of relationships we had hoped would carry us through life.
Paul does not end, however, on the note of death, but of life. He writes, “When Christ your life appears, then you, too, will appear with him in glory” (3:4).
The Sequence for this great feast of Easter invites us to sing and to believe, “Christ my hope is arisen … our new life obtaining.” The key to what makes possible this radical newness of life runs through the entire Easter liturgy.
Today’s Psalm tells us that God’s “mercy endures forever.” The first reading reminds us that “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). Our hope is his eternal merciful love. If forgiveness has no limit, then all can be made new!
The Resurrection is not a historical event that occurred once in the past without relevance for us today. The Resurrection did occur at a moment in history, but the love stronger than death that Christ poured out on the cross and that broke the power of death over us has effects that never cease.
Whatever in us and around us seems to be swallowed up in death need not remain so. Praying simple acts of faith can awaken us to the realities they express: Jesus is risen. Love is stronger than hatred. Life is stronger than death.
Even in the darkest moments, we have reason to hope that mercy can make all things new — our dead dreams, our broken hearts, and even our very lives.
Dominican Sister Mary Madeline Todd is a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville, Tennessee. She is assistant professor of theology at Aquinas College in Nashville and also serves through retreats, public speaking and writing.