Easter isn’t just a noun. Easter is almost something you should think of as a verb. Just like our faith. It is active. It moves. It’s something alive, and wondrous, and constantly in motion. And if you want proof, look no further than the gospel for today: Mary of Magdala in this story runs to tell the apostles what has happened, and two apostles run to the tomb to see for themselves. Running, in fact, is mentioned no less than three times in this short passage.
Even in the earliest moments of our faith – literally, the dawn of Christianity – ours was a faith on the move. We saw it last night, too, at the Easter Vigil. More than 200 candles lit this church – and the flames were not static. The light glimmered and flickered. It moved. There were processions, to the baptismal font and to the altar, reminding us that we are a pilgrim people. In the baptism ritual that brought seven new parishioners into the faith, the water was moving.
And then, of course, there was the quiet stirring of the human heart, as we heard again the story of our salvation, told again and again through readings that took us from creation to resurrection. One could not help but be moved at how God moves us – to be humbled and in awe at how far we have traveled as children of God and what God has done at Christ Our Hope since we started this parish seven years ago.
Easter is about going. It’s about rising. It’s running, pouring, anointing, sprinkling, affirming, and rejoicing. It is about opening our throats in full-throated cry that has been too silent for too long: Alleluia! Easter is sharing – it is the lit candle, this Paschal candle, spreading light from person to person until the entire church is ablaze with a fire that can only be called faith.
Easter is hearing – it is hearing once more the astonishing news that awakened the hearts of the women at the tomb: “He is risen.” Easter is proclaiming – it is proclaiming the Good News that our Savior lives. Death has been conquered. We have been redeemed. Easter assures us that Christianity is a faith on its feet, running to spread the Word.
It’s Mary, racing to tell the others. It’s Peter, a man who once denied Jesus, running toward a destiny that will transform his life – and the lives of countless others through history. It’s the apostles fanning out around the world, by ship or on foot, to face prison or torture or death. It’s Father Prefontaine who came to Seattle 150 years ago to celebrate Mass for 3 people at Yesler’s sawmill.
It’s Pope Francis, on his knees last Thursday, washing the feet of prisoners in Rome. It’s the work of Catholic schools educating the young and hospitals serving the sick. It’s the work of Catholic Charities providing housing and social services for one simple reason: because we are not meant to keep what we have to ourselves. By God’s grace, our church continues to grow.
Christ lives. And we live in him. It is just that simple, and just that miraculous. This day, we carry that with us into the world, continuing what Mary of Magdala began all those centuries ago. We have to tell others. It’s not the sort of news that you spread by walking. You have to run. And today, Easter, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, is the greatest reason of all to keep the momentum going.
Paul A. Magnano