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Easter Sunday Homily

Dominica Resurrectionis Domini Nostri Iesu Christi

Chiesa dei Santi Michele e Gaetano


31 Marzo 2024

Epistola: 1 Cor. 5, 7-8

Evangelium: Marc. 16, 1-7


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Today’s feast, the feast of all feasts, brings us incalculable joy for the two realities which inspire it. Christ, the Paschal Lamb Who has been sacrificed and is now forever alive, is ours: Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus.[1] First of all, Christ is risen. His Passion and Death on the Cross have found their finality in His Resurrection from the Dead and His Ascension to Glory at the Right Hand of the Father. Blessed Ildefonso Schuster, in his commentary for the Sacred Liturgy of Easter Sunday, reminds us of the primary reality underlying the feast:

The Gospel telling of the message of the angel to the holy women is from St Mark (xvi 1-7). The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a dogmatic fact for which we have abundant documentary evidence. It took place among persons who were for the most part hostile, as in the case of the Jews, or at least hard to convince, as were not only the Apostles but the women themselves. We cannot, therefore, put it down as auto-suggestion on the part of the first Christians, a delusion caused by their hopes, for they believed in the resurrection of Jesus in spite of themselves; they were not disposed to admit the fact, but were forced to do so by the evidence of their senses. They believed because they saw, because they actually touched, because they ate and drank with him who had been dead and had risen again.[2]

Christ Who died on the Cross is indeed risen. He is alive forever.

The second reality is that Christ died and rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father for us, to win in our human nature the victory over sin and everlasting death, to give us a share in His Resurrection through the Sacrament of Baptism. Christ is our Paschal Lamb. Blessed Ildefonso Schuster, reflecting on the two realities which the Sacred Liturgy of Easter Sunday and of the Easter Octave insistently places before our eyes, “that of the resurrection of our Lord and that of the baptism of the neophytes,” declares: “neither can be understood if considered by itself, for the regeneration of souls to the life of grace through the sacrament of baptism, after a spiritual manner which yet is full of reality, is a new resurrection of Christ in his mystical body.”[3] Christ Risen from the Dead lives in us through the grace of Baptism which flows forth from His glorious pierced Heart into our hearts. Saint Paul expresses the reality of who we are as sons and daughters of God in His only-begotten Son Incarnate, in his exhortation for today’s feast: “Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”[4]

The two realities which are inseparably one in the Mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation uncover for us the truth about our daily living in Christ, in our every thought, attitude, word, and action. Reflecting on the dogmatic truth of the Resurrection of Our Lord and of the Sacrament of Baptism, Blessed Columba Marmion instructs us:

Therefore, like the Jews, who, the Pasch having come, abstained from all leaven in order to eat the Paschal lamb, we, Christians, who would be partakers of the mystery of the Resurrection, who would unite ourselves to Christ, the Lamb Who was slain and rose again for us, we must henceforward live no longer in sin; we must keep ourselves from those evil desires which are like a leaven of malice and perversity: Non ergo regnet peccatum in vestro mortali corpore [Rom. vi, 12]; we must preserve within us the grace which will enable us to live in the truth and sincerity of the Divine law.

Such is St. Paul’s doctrine that the Church reads to us on the very day of Easter, and that especially points out the first element of holiness to us: to renounce sin, and all human springs of action which can, like old leaven, corrupt our deeds; to live, in regard to all sin and all created things, in that spiritual liberty which appeared so vividly in the Risen Christ.[5]

Today’s feast renews in us the realism, the respect for objective truth, which leads us to live ever more fully in Christ. While the world would tell us that it is unrealistic to pursue the life of the virtues, the grace of the Risen Christ teaches us that there is nothing more true, more real, than following Him faithfully each day on the way of the cross, which leads us to eternal life.

In the face of the evil which seeks to cover the world in darkness and to corrupt the souls of men, menacing the very Mystical Body of Christ, let us arm ourselves with the divine grace which has its eternal source in the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His glorious-pierced Heart. Only the life of Christ in us conquers evil and dispels the darkness which is its fruit.

Let us invoke, in a particular way, the intercession of the Virgin Mother of Christ, the Mother of Divine Grace, to obtain the grace which we need to be, with Christ, faithful and courageous “fellow workers in the truth.”[6] Our Lord gave us His Mother as our Mother when He was dying on the cross for our eternal salvation. Over the Christian centuries, especially in times of grave sin and darkness, He has sent His Mother to us by way of apparitions to bring us back to Him Who alone is our salvation. In 1531, while the Protestant Revolt was raging and menacing the Church in Europe, and the diabolical practice of human sacrifice and the bloody conflict between Native Americans and Spanish explorers and settlers enveloped Mexico, Our Lord sent His Virgin Mother under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe to bring countless hearts to her Immaculate Heart so that they might rest in His glorious-pierced Heart, finding there the good order of Divine Law and Love. She speaks to us today, as she spoke to Saint Juan Diego, her faithful messenger, in 1531:

Am I not here, I who have the honor to be your mother? Are you not in my shadow and under my protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms?[7]

In the present time, marked by wars and threats of war, and the deadly corruption of Christian society and culture, let us, with confidence, turn to Our Lady of Guadalupe whose miraculous image on the tilma of Saint Juan Diego leads us to Her Divine Son Who alone can banish darkness and sin in us and in the world. To address the sin and darkness in us and in our world, I urge you to join me in a Nine-Month Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe to be completed with the Solemn Consecration to Our Lady on her feast, December 12th.

Christ Risen from the Dead lives in us through the grace of Baptism which flows forth from His glorious pierced Heart into our hearts. He will now make sacramentally new His Sacrifice on Calvary to nourish His Life within us by the Heavenly Bread of His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. “Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”[8]

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

[1] 1 Cor 5, 7.

[2] “La lezione del Vangelo col racconto del messaggio dell’angelo alle pie Donne, è tolta da Marco (xvi 1-7). La resurrezione di Gesù Cristo è un fatto dogmatico solidamente documentato. Essa è avvenuta in mezzo ad un ambiente in gran parte ostile, – i giudei – , in parte refrattario a prestarvi fede; e sono, non soltanto gli uomini, gli Apostoli, ma le stesse donne. Non si può dunque pensare alla autosuggestione della prima generazione cristiana, che avrebbe attribuito al Cristo storico, quanto invece era una delusione nelle loro speranze. No; la resurrezione di Gesù invece fu creduta da loro, loro malgrado: essi non erano disposti ad ammetterla, e doverono piegarsi all’evidenza. Essi credettero, ma perché videro, perché palparono sensibilmente, perché mangiarono e bevvero con lui, che era morto e risuscitò.” A. I. Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum. Note storiche e liturgiche sul Messale Romano, Vol. IV (Torino-Roma: Casa Editrice Marietti, 1930), p. 76. [Schuster]. English translation: Ildefonso Schuster, The Sacramentary (Liber Sacramentorum): Historical and Liturgical Notes on the Roman Missal, Vol. II, Parts 3 and 4, tr. Arthur Levelis-Marke (Waterloo, ON: Arouca Press, 2020), p. 316. [SchusterEng].

[3] “… quello della resurrezione di Gesù, e del battesimo amministrato ai neofiti. … non si comprendono più se vengono separati tra loro, giacché la rigenerazione delle anime alla grazia mediante il battesimo, in un senso spirituale ma pur denso di realtà, è una nuova resurrezione del Cristo nelle sue mistiche membra.” Schuster, p. 73. English translation: SchusterEng, p. 313.

[4] 1 Cor 5, 8.

[5] “C’est pourquoi, comme les Juifs qui, la Pâque venue, s’abstenaient de tout levain pour manger l’agneau pascal, « vous de même, chrétiens, qui voulez participer au mystère de la résurrection, vous unir au Christ, Agneau immolé et ressuscité pour vous, vous ne devez plus désormais vivre dans le péché ; vous devez vous garder de ces mauvais désirs qui sont comme un levain de malice et de perversité : Non ergo regnet  peccatum in vestro mortali corpore [Rom. VI, 12] ; vous devez conserver en vous la grâce qui vous fera vivre dans la vérité e dans la sincérité de la loi divine.

Telle est la doctrine que saint Paul nous fait entendre au jour même de Pâques, et qui marque surtout le premier élément de notre sainteté : renoncer au péché, à tout mobile humain qui peut, comme un vieux levain, corrompre nos actions ; vivre, à l’égard de tout péché et de tout être créé, dans cette liberté spirituelle qui apparaît si vivement dans le Christ ressuscité.” Columba Marmion, Le Christ dans ses mystères (Maredsous [Belqique]: Les Éditions de Maredsous, 1947), pp. 326-327. English translation: Columba Marmion, Christ in His Mysteries, tr. Mother M. St. Thomas of Tyburn Convent, 8th ed. (London: Sands & Co., 1939), pp. 292-293.

[6] 3 Jn 8.

[7] “¿No estoy yo aquí, yo, que tengo el honor de ser tu madre? ¿No estás bajo mi sombra y resguardo? ¿No soy yo la fuente de tu alegría? ¿No estás en el hueco de mi manto, en el cruce de mis brazos?” “El Nican Mopohua,” tr. Instituto Superior de Estudios Guadalupanos, in Carl A. Anderson y Eduardo Chávez, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Madre de la civilización del amor (México, D.F.: Random House Mondadori, S.A. de C.V., 2010), p. 220, n. 119. English translation: “The Nican Mopohua,” in Carl A. Anderson and Eduardo Chávez, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love (New York: Doubleday, 2009), p. 179, no. 119.

[8] 1 Cor 5, 8.