Fr. Bryan Howard
Easter Sunday – 20 April 2019
Throughout Holy Week we’ve considered who Jesus is. Jesus is God and man, Jesus is the one who comes among us to serve and to stand as a model for us. Jesus is our Savior. But the theme of this Mass, of the Easter Vigil, is, Lumen Christi, Christ our Light. On Friday after the Service of the Lord’s Passion, the Eucharist is removed from the Church, and tonight Christ re-enters His Church symbolically as the light of the Paschal Candle, and sacramentally in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In the Exsultet, we heard that “This is the night of which it is written: the night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.” Light not only allows us to see, it also gives life, and that is what Christ does for us, He helps us to see the world as it really is and gives us life.
You see, our sins affect us. They affect both the way we act and the way we think. Sin darkens our intellect and affects our ability to reason. We start to make excuses for ourselves and to find all the reasons why it’s really not that bad. Then we start to think that it’s really not bad at all. But to keep thinking that, we have to blind ourselves to the affects of our sin. The Nazi’s, for example, didn’t think that they were the bad guys. They convinced themselves that what they were doing was necessary for the defense of Germany, then they convinced themselves that their victims were lesser humans, and then that they weren’t really humans at all. They called them untermenschen, “under-men.” In smaller and bigger ways, we do this with our own sins. Living in the light of Christ helps us to see through those self-deceptions, and live in the truth.
As St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “For the wages of sin is death. But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our sins damage and kill our relationship with God, with the Church, with the people around us, our family and friends, and even with ourselves. You know this already. You’ve seen the results of your own sins, the damage they’ve caused. The grace of God restores us to life, just as Christ rose to new Life in the dawn of Easter Sunday, but it’s not a miracle pill. We have to actively live in the light of Christ. We have to actively accept the new life that He’s offering us. You can try to go your own way, but you may not realize your on the wrong path until it’s too late and you’re standing before the Just Judge, God our Father. As a priest I know likes to say, “Don’t be a test pilot.” We’ve been given a road map that we know works in the Gospels, in the Traditions of the Church, and in the lives of the saints.
People used to ask me all the time, “Why do you like going to Mass?” That was before I was a priest, now people just assume that I’m weird. But I would ask them if they realized what was happening on the altar. On that altar, the death and the Resurrection of Jesus are made present for us. All the grace of God is contained in the Eucharist. So, yes, we are required to go to Mass every Sunday and every Holy Day of obligation, but, really, we get to go to Mass. Maybe it’s boring to you, and maybe there are other things you’d rather be doing, sometimes I feel the same way, but we’re not controlled by our feelings, and we know that in the Mass we can experience God in a more powerful way than anywhere else. Be generous with God, because what He wants to give you is far more than He’s asking in return.
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.