We’ve made it! We prepared ourselves by forty days of prayer and fasting, and now we celebrate the great resurrection of our Lord. We celebrate Easter in a special way all week, and in each gospel reading we’ll hear and meditate on a certain appearance of our risen Lord to different disciples. We then keep observing Easter season for fifty days, during which we will hear excerpts from the entire Acts of the Apostles.
In a society like ours, if you ask people what event in history was the most important, of course you’ll get a wide variety of answers. You might have difficulty in getting people to answer the question, as we are not an overly reflective people. Patriots might point to the founding of the United States. World War II veterans might point to the beginning or end of that momentous war. Today, there are many who want to eradicate all trace of the past, as if the present is the only good part of human existence.
We who follow Christ, of course, believe that any meaningful history revolves around Him. Previous history, as given, for example, in the Old Testament, leads up to Christ. Subsequent history is a playing out of the great faith which Christ established. It all centers on the person of Jesus. And his resurrection from the dead is the most striking event, the event that shows us his power over death and everything that is bad, the event which has especially inspired the Church from the beginning.
One of the great things Pope Francis has said is that we should focus not so much on our birthday, but on our anniversary of Baptism. This is completely in accordance with a worldview that regards Christ as greater than all the things of this world. Today, then, is special to me, because it is the anniversary of my Baptism.
My Baptism is perhaps more poignant to me than yours is to you because I remember it. No, I am not one of those people who claim to remember events from my infancy. I am a convert, baptized during my freshman year of college. It was the night before Easter, and I traveled home that weekend to be baptized in the parish where I had begun attending Mass. Beside me were a young woman who sang in the choir and three children, one of whom interrupted the homily when the priest mispronounced his name.
I remember the homily as being a bit silly, but it was a glorious occasion. It meant that I could start receiving Jesus’ grace in confession and Communion. I’ll grant that I wasn’t thrilled about going to confession, but I made myself go four weeks after my baptism, and have gone regularly ever since.
My Baptism was a triumph of grace in my very secular family, which had a history of New Age beliefs long before New Age was popular. In this Easter time, we give thanks to God for His triumph.
I ask you to pray for those who were baptized or received into the Church this year. At some point their enthusiasm will wear off, and they will be tempted to fall away. Pray that they—and all of us—will have a firm faith that Jesus has overcome evil, and that we might live our lives completely for Him.
[Readings: Acts 2:22, 23-33; Mt 28:8-15]