This evening Estelle Bene, Winnie Lee, Ronald Monk, Priscilla Ning, Kewen Zhu and Anastasia Nicolov will be baptized and Sylvia Rhee, Chad Smith and Mark Anthony will be received into the Catholic community. Since last September these good people have working with Mary Landry, Fatima Lee and Bonnie O’Brien, learning more and more about our Catholic/Christian faith. They’ve decided, through their study and prayer that they wanted to join the church.
In the early church this was the night new Christians were baptized. St. Paul uses the powerful imagery of Christ’s burial and resurrection to describe this sacrament of baptism. As Christ was buried in the tomb and then rose gloriously from the tomb to new life, so the newly baptized immersed in water, as in a tomb came from that tomb to new life in Christ. Paul explains his symbolism saying, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too have been raised in him to live a new life for God.” By water and by word we who are baptized are freed from sin and we enter into a whole new relationship the Father, the Father Who chose us in Christ before the world began to be His adopted daughters and sons.
At every Easter Mass we are asked to renounce Satan and the works of Satan – to profess our faith in Jesus Christ and commit ourselves again to do our best at living Christ like lives, living out our adoption, our being chosen by God before the world began.
This is the feast of life over death, love over hatred, holiness over sin. This feast is the foundation stone of our Christian life and faith. As St. Paul puts it so bluntly “if Christ be not raised then we are still in our sins” – the pain and shame and death on Good Friday was for nothing. But we believe the good news brought to Peter and the apostles on first Easter morning by Mary Magdalene and passed on to Christian people through the centuries – Christ lives.
Jesus was raised, not as a reward for a good life well spent, but to untomb us from our tombs of our sins, our anger, prejudice, self centeredness. Christ rose from the dead to empower us, His sisters and brothers to overcome all those death dealing situations in our lives, be they found in lifestyles, attitudes or in relationships that can dominate and control our lives and are really unworthy of our dignity as daughters and sons of God and deprive us of the life and love that are ours through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.
Easter, in a special way, is a day and celebration that calls us to live our lives for God and this we do by living our lives for others following the example of Christ Who came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.
As we continue to celebrate our Easter Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we live our lives in such a way that they manifest the good news, the life giving news Mary Magdalene brought to the Apostles – Christ is risen and lives in us, in the lives we live, the work we do, the service give and the prayers we pray – outside these walls.