The following is Bishop Gerald Barnes’ homily at the 8:30 a.m. Easter Sunday Mass held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in San Bernardino on April 16.
We are celebrating today the most important event in our lives. We heard the Gospel proclaimed by our deacon, the scripture says that it was morning and it was still dark and Mary was on her way to the tomb.
“It was still dark.” That’s a symbol that things were not right. There was discouragement, and disappointment, a sense of sadness, a sense of fear. There was a feeling of worry and loss…and she goes to the tomb. It’s important to note that she wasn’t intimidated in going, she went.
You can imagine what her worry must have been, that I’m going to anoint this body to prepare this body, but there is a stone, a huge heavy stone in front of the tomb. It would seem to me that her concern would be - who’s going to help me move that stone? How am I going to be able to get into that tomb and do what I need to do?
Yet when she arrives, the tomb is open. The stone has been rolled aside. She saw that and she believed, she remembered what the Lord had said, and she runs then to share that with the disciples. They know that a miracle has happened because later on they meet the Risen Lord. Can you imagine all that discouragement and disappointment, all the worry and the sense of loss, all the fear and frustration? All that is lifted, it’s not there anymore. There is joy. Everything that weighed them down, that got them frustrated and tired and burdened, had been rolled away.
Can you imagine that feeling? Because you and I at times feel so burdened, it’s hard to carry one day to the next. At times we are so worried, so frustrated. At times we are so sad, and to have all of that lifted, all of that lifted from us, rolled away…can you imagine the joy and peace that is felt? That is what they experienced: being freed of the burdens that keep people from truly living, free to a new way of seeing things. And now their purpose in life was to see things like above – the way that God sees things. To understand that Jesus had come into this world and had given his life for us so that we could be reborn and see things differently, see things now with the eyes of Christ, not to see things burdened and heavy and saddened and frustrated and bad, but to see things with hope that things will get better, that there’s a purpose to our life until the day we die.
That is a message that is needed so much in today’s world – that you and your children and your grandchildren need to see, not only to hear. Because one of the key words in the gospel is the word “see.” See where he laid, see he is no longer here in this room, see and live that new way of seeing.
And today people need to see in you and me that there is something better; there is something worth living for, there’s no need to live in frustration and sadness and resignation. We live in hope that things can be better because the Lord has been raised from the dead. And he lives in you and me. Who wouldn’t want their children to have a better life? To go after the things of God and not the things of Satan that will bring them sadness and discouragement that will end their lives early; that will lead them to addictions and to ambitions that are not healthy. Who doesn’t want the best for their children? It’s up to you and me to relive the story and to point out the goodness that is there in the world.
Now, his disciples were filled with a new way of seeing, a new way of living. It didn’t mean that their poverty and the injustices of the world were eliminated, it meant that they knew now to live through them now with hope, not giving up, not ending their lives in fear and frustration and sadness. It was a new way to live. And they also knew that they were loved by God. You see, the great miracle is not only Jesus being raised from the dead. The great miracle is that our lives can change, that we can believe that each one of us is a child of God.
When we enter the church most of us generally take the holy water and bless ourselves with that holy water. Some of us do it in all different kinds of ways. Some of us are not really paying attention we are talking to somebody else as we are walking in real fast, looking for a seat. But we do take that holy water. Let us remember what that means for us today because we will be sprinkled with that new holy water again. When Jesus was baptized and he came out of the water a voice was heard that said, “you are my beloved son.” And when you and I take that holy water and bless ourselves in remembrance of our own baptism the same voice says to you “you are my beloved child, you are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter.” We forget that sometimes. We forget how much we are loved by God. We give into the forces of darkness, we forget that there is light and that Jesus is the light of the world. That’s what we celebrate today; we embrace once again that we are loved by God. Today, you will have the opportunity to renew your baptismal promises, claiming yourself for the things of above. In other words, to live the life of Christ here in this earth, to be a sign of hope for your families, for your neighborhood and for our world.
Look at what is going on in our world today; a lack of trust, division even among our families; a lack of respect for other people and for what they choose to believe; fear of war, displacement of peoples; refugees running from their homes throughout the world; deportations of people that have lived in this country ten, 20, 30 years. We all need to be signs that things can be better and that things will be better. Easter is a time for us to renew our faith in our God, to reclaim that we are children of God, beloved by God, and that we are signs of hope for one another.
May this be a new Easter for you. May you reclaim who you are, a child of God. And may you know always that you are His beloved.