Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, he has been raised.
By Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S.
“Christ is risen!” Is the traditional Paschal greeting along with its response, “Christ is risen indeed!” Some add an alleluia for good measure to the end of the response. But this what we celebrate today, for the entire octave, and all the way to Pentecost. The fact that Christ is indeed risen.
It’s funny that two of the three possible readings for Easter Sunday do not include the risen Christ. Rather they place the focus on the empty tomb. The stone has been rolled away and he is not there. The burial clothes are there, but he is not.
In the Lucan account, we get the message of the angels quoted above, announcing the confusing good news. The women were coming to clean and anoint the broken body of their Rabbi and friend. They were coming to mourn and work through their grief. They did not expect the angels’ announcement. Imagine for a moment the joy they must have felt when it finally sunk in or when he appeared to them for the first time in the upper room, still locked “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19).
I have never experienced the stark juxtaposition of grief and joy that they must have experienced. I imagine it must be what parents feels when they are reunited with their child after a school shooting and lock-down. Or what Ukrainians feel when they get word that their loved one made it through the most recent bombing unscathed. The joy is heightened because the fear and grief were so profound.
It is easy for us to over-spiritualize our celebration of Easter. We know that Jesus will rise, and so we can sometimes skate through Good Friday and Holy Saturday as necessary waiting that gets us to Easter. But the joy of Easter is more than simply finally getting to eat the thing from which you were fasting all through Lent. It is also more than the acknowledgment that heaven is possible for us when we die. It is the truth that Jesus Christ is Risen. He is alive!
Originally from Alameda, Calif., Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S., served for a number of years at St. Agnes Parish in Los Angeles. He is now the vocation director of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.