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PriorIt has been a long tradition in our Catholic faith that the first part of the Easter Vigil Rites is celebrated in darkness. Darkness, as I have experienced it in our liturgy is but a personal invitation of Christ to be in solidarity with him nourished by the word of God, reminding us of our ancestors’ faith journey… a journey of hopeful anticipation of their future liberation.

My dear brothers and sisters, we are now enjoying the glory of forty days of Lenten observance. We are now reaping the fruit of our sacrifices through abstinence, fasting, alms giving and other forms of penitential acts. And tonight we are professing that CHRIST IS RISEN! The LORD IS RISEN! (Let us give Christ around applause as we greet him in his triumphant resurrection.)

My dear friends darkness is over, and new rays of hope is being given to us.

While we are celebrating the glory of Christ’s resurrection, my attention is caught by the two disciples walking to Emmaus. Three days after Christ’s crucifixion, these two disciples decided to go on a journey. They were sad and downtrodden because Jesus their master was crucified and died a criminal’s death. Another factor that contributes with their sadness is the fact that they lost their hope. Covered with sadness, they forget what Christ has told them about resurrection. I think, they were really hurt, and they carried the pain…they are actually experiencing darkness, of loosing someone who is very dear to them. On their journey, they were so silent, a disturbing one that even Jesus needs to ask: why are you sad? Steven Covey, the author of the 7 Habits (for family edition) said that the “greatest longing of a human person is to be understood.” Jesus while on the journey with his disciples did exactly what Covey said, by asking what happened, He then understood what these two disciples were passing through.

The challenge of Christ’s resurrection is for us to be able to understand our faith in order to remain faithful to our baptismal promises. Without knowing it, we have immersed ourselves into the restlessness of this modern world; we have busied ourselves to uplift our lives, leaving a little time for God. In this Easter celebration, we are again invited to rediscover our identity as children of God. Pope Benedict XVI said in his 2011 Lenten Message that the “journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our baptism”. It is actually rediscovering the grace of the cross, that is our salvation and rediscovering the grace of resurrection, that is new life. Through the sacrament of baptism, we received the grace of salvation and the grace of new life in Christ.

Allow me to ask this question: How many of us today understand the message of Christ resurrection through rediscovering God’s grace in our life? The two disciples actually rediscovered Christ in the breaking of the bread, so to mean that the sacraments specifically the Holy Eucharist is an event of rediscovery in our present time. I am  deeply touched with you and to all those who appreciate the meaning and importance of the Holy Eucharist as part of your lives. Jesus, the Risen one is continuously manifesting his triumph over death through the sacraments, the living symbol of his love on earth.

Many would say that our world is characterize with malice and deception, but actually it is not, our world is characterize with the love of God, and that love is just waiting to be rediscovered, Mary Magdalene in our gospel reading was a sinful woman, she then discovered her worth as a human person in the loving eyes of God…and eventually Mary Magdalene re-discovered the risen Christ. It was the love in Mary’s heart that led her to discover that there was life after Christ death.

We have to make many rediscoveries in our faith. (Gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Easter) We have to rediscover the peace that Christ is giving to each of us. The disciples fearing the Jews after Jesus death locked themselves in a room. Jesus said “Peace be with you”, that peace is a heartwarming message of encounter between Jesus’ disciples and Jesus himself. On that very moment, Jesus offering reconciliation and a new beginning for those who come to him through the sacrament of reconciliation.

We have to discover again that Jesus is the only way to the Father, He is the only way to salvation. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is the way, the truth and the life. My dear friends believe in this “Jesus said: I am the way, and whoever enters through me will be saved (John 10:9). Sad to say, there are few individuals who would like to alter the plan of God, disguise in their concern for the welfare of women, but selfishness motivates their hearts.

My dear brothers and sisters, as we celebrate today the greatest feast of our faith, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are challenged to understand the core of our faith, the faith which has been handed to us. Understanding our faith leads to discovery of our life with God. When we are so conscious of our day to day living, there is something more. If rediscovering God asks us to search for him just like what Mary Magdalene does when she arrived at the empty tomb then let us hurry looking for Jesus while we have still the time.

Now darkness is over, we are now covered with light. Jesus has crossed the bridge of death to new life. This easter season, let us continue pray for one another…and let us together offer praises of thanksgiving for all the blessings that we have received in our lives.  The eucharist that we are celebrating right now doesn’t end, it must continue radiating in our life through humble service  to one another.

As we welcome Christ, the Risen One, I pray that God our Almighty Father will bless you on this solemn Feast of Easter and protect you against all sin and through the resurrection of His Son, may God granted us His healing and fulfill his promises and bless you with eternal life. Amen.

– Fr. Ronald Thomas “Archie” A. Cortez, SRC