Just as the disciples did after the first Easter, we too can shout “Alleluia” with joy, because we have encountered the risen Lord. On this Easter, and every day, Jesus is with us, and brings us new life.
We experienced the joy of that new life in Christ in a special way at the Easter Vigils throughout the Archdiocese of Washington, when more than 1,100 women, men and children became full members of the Catholic Church after being baptized and receiving Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation. Easter is a time for all of us to reflect on the great blessing that we have received by being invited into the Body of Christ – into his family.
Not long ago, on a very rainy night, I was walking from a meeting to dinner. It was raining so hard, that the street was filling with puddles. One of our group came late to dinner and began to describe how he had been soaked by the spray of a passing car. He was wet, his suit was dirty and he went back to the hotel to wash up and put on clean clothes so that he would be fit to come to the dinner table with us. In a way this story is a parable about the experience of Baptism and new life in Christ.
In God’s plan we started out neat and clean. Original sin, like the spray of the puddle, tarnishes us. Like my friend, returning to his room to wash up and change, there is a remedy for us. In Baptism, we have been cleansed and given a new outfit, clothed in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the cleansing waters of Baptism and in Confirmation we received a new heart and a new spirit. The gifts of the Spirit make us worthy to come to the table of the Lord.
This new life through the sacraments could only happen in Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Resurrection is meant for you and for me. The words “Christ is risen, Christ is truly risen, Alleluia, Alleluia,” are our words as a result of these sacraments. Not only is Christ risen, but we are risen in him and his new life as part of his new creation.
What joy this brings us! Like the first disciples, like those who became members of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, we have encountered the risen Christ, and we will never be the same. That is why Easter is a day of such great, overwhelming joy. Jesus is risen from the dead and remains near to us. We share a new life in Christ, and we are called to share his Good News. And that is why, on this Easter and every day, we can proclaim, “Alleluia!”