Salvation History Has Changed Forever
1st Sunday of Easter (B)

Jeremiah R. Grosse
Reproduced with Permission

For they did not yet understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead. In the course of three days, salvation history had changed forever. All of the promises that God had made to His people throughout the Hebrew Scriptures have now come true and God has restored to us what had been lost by our first parents.

Even though men and women were made in the image and likeness of God and given dominion over all the fish, birds, and cattle, this did not seem to be enough for us. We wanted to be just like God. God gave us only one direct command. We were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but we simply could not resist.

This act of disobedience led to a whole chain of events such as pain in child bearing, toil at work, a feeling of shame regarding our bodies, and, of course, death. Not only did our first parents have to suffer all of these things, including expulsion from the Garden of Eden, but we continue to carry that wound in our bodies.

What evidence do we have that we are still feelings the effects of their disobedience?

It does not take long while watching the evening news or reading the local paper before we encounter some story about people being exploited because of their nationality, religion, or race. We read recently about the man who walked into a building in Binghamton, NY filled with immigrants who were preparing to become American citizens. He killed numerous immigrants and two employees before killing himself for, what appears to be, no reason at all.

Every woman who has ever given birth knows all too well the experience of labor pains. Instead of work being a joy and a blessing, for many people it is simply drudgery and the amount of income that they earn is hardly enough to support their family.

We live in a culture that does not know how to deal with death. We take Botox injections, get face lifts, and do anything else in our power to avoid looking old. We worship the god of youth and somehow believe that this pagan idol will spare us from death. We even use silk flowers instead of real ones so that we do not have to face the fact that even the flowers will eventually die.

While all of these things like toil and death entered the world as a result of our first parents’ act of disobedience, we need to keep in mind that this is not the end of the story.

This is the night when God freed His people of Israel from their slavery and led them dry-shod through the sea. This is the night when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.

While it is certainly true that sin and death entered the world through one man’s actions, it is also true that his actions helped to bring us our redemption. This is why as a community we can say, “O Happy Fault! O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer.”

Of this night, the Scripture says, “The night will be clear as day. It will become our light, our joy!” The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.

Do we have any signs of God’s grace in the world in which we live?

This is our true Passover feast, when Christ, the true Lamb is slain. His blood consecrates the homes of all believers. For Christ has redeemed us with his blood, and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our Eternal Father.

What good would life have been for us, had not Christ come as our Redeemer? To ransom a slave God gave away His only Son. Most blessed over all nights, chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead.

This night is truly blessed because heaven is wedded to earth and all creation is reconciled with God. Our Easter Candle, fashioned from the work of bees, is a flame divided but undimmed, a pillar of fire which glows to the honor of God. This holy light now mingles with the light of heaven and continues to bravely burn to dispel the darkness of this night.

Just as we fell from grace through the disobedience of one man, so we have been saved and redeemed through the act of one man, Jesus Christ, the Morning Star, who has come back to us from the dead and has shed peaceful light upon all. May the Morning Star, which never sets, find this flame still burning.

The transforming power of God has changed the course of human history forever. No longer are we slaves to the sin, but we are truly free. By rising from the grave, Jesus broke the chains of death and made us, once more, heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven.

This is not only the most blessed of all nights, it is also the most joyful of all nights. By virtue of the Resurrection we can truly say that we have our lives back.

In a few moments we will receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord which unites us to Him in the most intimate way possible. What a great gift we have received from Him. As we proceed from the liturgy, let us bear witness to the Resurrection through our words and deeds so that everyone might know that Jesus is truly Risen from the dead and people can have their lives transformed by coming to know Him as we do.