A woman in her mid-50’s boarded a plane. But when she got to her assigned seat, she immediately burst out saying she didn’t like her assigned seat. She didn’t like it because beside her was a ‘black’ man sitting. ‘I can’t seat here beside this ‘vermin’ she said loudly. She immediately summoned for the flight attendant and demanded a new seat. The flight attendant went to talk to the Captain and to see if there’s still any unoccupied seat on the plane. After few minutes, the flight attendant returned and told her: ‘The captain has confirmed that there are no more seats in the economy, but there is one in the first class Cabin. It is our company policy to never move a person from economy to first class. But because it is sort of a great injustice to force a person to sit next to an UNPLEASANT person, the captain agreed to make the switch to first class.” The woman started to move, but the flight attendant gestured to the black man as she said: “Therefore sir, if you would so kindly retrieve your personal items, we would like to move you to the comfort of first class as the captain doesn’t want you to sit next to an unpleasant person.” Passengers in the seats nearby began to applause while some gave a standing ovation.
I don’t know if this story is true or not, but it definitely speaks something for our celebration today. The Captain wants the best for us. God couldn’t give us any better than his own Son who loves us so much to death, and now to life.
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, couldn’t bear us dying in sin and filthiness of our souls. He doesn’t want us to remain seated on the ‘unpleasant’ odour of our sins. He doesn’t want us to die in our sins forever, so he took to the burden, he took the penalty of our sins, he embraced death for us to live. He upgrades us to a better part, in fact, to a new life. He died for all, sinners and saints alike. He laid down his life for all. He wishes to save all. And today, in his resurrection, we have the assurance that we will share in his resurrection later on (in God’s own time). It is so because He just wants the best for us. And because of this, we are to rejoice, we are to celebrate.
Last night, in our parish we have the beautiful Easter Vigil Ceremonies. We started outside the Church, with the blessing of the fire, then we lit the Easter Candle, then the people lit their own candles from the One Easter candle. Then we process together to the Church. We sang the Exultet, urging us, the Church (together with the angels and saints in heaven) to rejoice, for our salvation has come, for Christ has broken the prison bars of death and rose victorious from the grave. We heard the beautiful readings from the Old Testament recalling the History of our Salvation- telling us of the goodness that God has done unto us since the beginning. We heard the Readings of the New Testament reminding us of the immense grace that Jesus Christ has poured on us upon his death. We heard the gospel telling us of the empty tomb, and the angel telling those first witnesses of resurrection that Jesus has indeed risen from the dead. We sang the Alleluia together again, after 5 weeks of silence about it. We have the blessing of the Fire and the water. We have ten people, teenagers and young adults, received into the Church through the sacraments of initiation. What a beautiful ceremony! We may ask: ‘Why make all those ‘fuzz?’ Why do we have to spend at least two hours to celebrate Easter Vigil?
The answer is why not?
Why don’t we celebrate the moment of our salvation? Why don’t we spend so much time recalling the many graces that God has given us since the beginning of our existence? Why don’t we spend some time to ponder on how God loved us? Why don’t we thank God for his great love? Why don’t we celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ, our God himself has ‘destroyed all record of our ancient debt incurred under the law, in order to lead us to heaven where there is no death but only eternal life and righteousness’ according to St Basil of Seleucia.
Why don’t we celebrate the beauty of our God who is our creator who breathes all of us of the gift of life as we hear from the Book of Genesis? In Exodus, he is the God who sets us free from slavery of Egypt. In Isaiah, he is the Lord who calls us and takes us back with great love, and quenches all thirst and satisfies our hunger. In Baruch, he is our God like no other. In Ezekiel, he is our God who gives us a new heart and places a new Spirit within us.
And more. In the New Testament, St Paul in his letter to the Romans, He is our God who destroyed all power of sin and freed us from all slavery to sin. And in our Gospel, we have the Good News of all, that Jesus Christ who suffered, died and was buried, is now risen and alive again. That is our God…and that’s how much he loved us…Isn’t it worth celebrating?
God has upgraded us, not only to a better part but to a new life in him.
We are now called Children of Easter. We can hold our heads high now, telling the world that we have the real reason to hope, to love and to care for each other, because God cares for us to death and to life. We are now new Creation, saved by God and led by him towards eternal union with him forever. Let us just keep on his ways, keep following him all the way. We may still side-track at times, as human as we are but Jesus’ resurrection has given us a challenge here. To keep on the track, obey God’s will, listen to God always, keep the Risen Jesus really alive in us because it is only through this that we can say with St Paul, ‘It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. To celebrate Easter then, we are to be reflection of the risen Christ to others as well as to tell others of our risen saviour.