My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Christ is risen!
This is an extraordinary Easter, as Christians in almost every nation are forced to celebrate in their homes because our world is shut down by the coronavirus.
In Rome earlier today, our Holy Father Pope Francis celebrate the Easter Vigil, just as we are celebrating here — without the physical presence of the faithful, and with no baptisms performed during the liturgy. It is, indeed, a different way of doing it — an extraordinary time.
A time when we especially need to pray for all the people who are suffering as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.
But it is, at the same time, a day of joy where we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Last Sunday, as we celebrated Palm Sunday, we heard in the Gospel how Pilate ordered the soldiers to seal the rock of our Lord’s tomb and guard it.
But the sealed tomb could not hold Jesus! Pilate’s soldiers could not stop Easter from coming!
But tonight, in the passage of the Gospel that we just heard, we hear that on that Sunday morning as the light was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb. There was an earthquake and angel came down from heaven and rolled away the stone.
And, as we heard, his tomb was empty.
Jesus dies, and behold he is alive!2 Christ is risen and will die no more! What a consolation it is to hear these words of hope tonight.
So Jesus asked us to carry our cross with him in this time of disease and death. Now we join in his resurrection and we know that God’s love is stronger than death!3
This is why baptism is the most important day of your life.
We die and rise with Jesus in baptism, St. Paul tells us tonight. And if we die with him, we shall live with him, we shall walk in “newness of life”— on the road to heaven and eternal life with God. This is the beautiful reality of Christians lives.
That’s why it is also a sadness tonight that we cannot welcome the elect in baptism. We grieve that we cannot be together tonight and we are praying for all of you in a special way, my dear brothers and sisters. We look forward to the day when we can celebrate your new birth through grace, and number you among the children of adoption in Christ.
In this extraordinary Easter, when we cannot celebrate the rite of Baptism, I want to speak to you directly, wherever you are, who were preparing for baptism this Easter: My dear elect, offer your sorrows and disappointments to God. Make sure that you make an act of spiritual communion tonight. Tell Jesus how much you long to receive the gift of his Spirit in baptism.
And for those of us who are baptized, let us offer our hearts to Jesus tonight, as he offers his heart to us.
So, let us all of us ask tonight for the grace of a new conversion — to live for Jesus and nothing else.
Jesus speaks to all of us tonight in the Gospel: “Do not be afraid!” Do not be afraid of his resurrection. Do not be afraid of his love, do not be afraid to give your life to him and follow him.
As we heard tonight, through our history, God has brought his children out of persecutions, famines and pandemics.
We are children of God, and even in these difficult times, he knows our needs, and he will give us every good gift. He will deliver us from this evil as he brought his people out of Egypt, and brought them back from exile.
Christ is risen and we will rise with him!
I wish all of you and your loved ones a blessed Easter! In this extraordinary Easter, may all of us stay close to Jesus, and may we be renewed in the knowledge that your life is precious to God.
Let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to intercede for us, that he might deliver us from every evil and grant us peace in our day.
1. Readings: Gen: 1:1-2:2; Gen. 22:1-18; Exod. 14:15-15:1; Isa. 54:5-14; Isa 55:1-11; Bar. 3:9-15, 32c - 4:4; Ezek. 36:16-28; Rom. 6:3-11; Matt. 28:1-10.
2. Rev. 1:18; 2:8.
3. Song 8:6.