I belong to a Franciscan Third Order Fraternity that meets at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. One of our spiritual directors was a Franciscan priest by the name of Father Philip. Now Father Philip was originally ordained in the Eastern Rite, before transferring to the Roman Rite. Now members of the Eastern Rite are Christians, who are like the Eastern Orthodox, but they recognize the authority of the Pope and accept Catholic doctrines. Now there is an Eastern Rite practice that on Easter, people greet each other by one saying: “Christ is Risen!” and the other responding “He is risen indeed!” Now at the first Mass he celebrated with us after Easter, Father Philip came out and greeted us enthusiastically with “Christ is Risen!” Now some but not all of us knew the response, there was a weak “He is Risen indeed!” This was not good enough for Father; he repeated the greeting: “Christ is Risen!” The response came back a little stronger: “He is Risen indeed!” But Father Philip was still not satisfied, he repeated the greeting louder: “Christ is Risen!” And this time we responded with gusto: “He is Risen Indeed!” Father Philip nodded and began the celebration of the Eucharist.
Now I ask that we take a closer look at that declaration, “Christ is Risen!” Present tense! It is acknowledging a reality that is happening here and now, not something that occurred only is the past. Jesus Christ is our Risen Savior; he is present, here, now. As he said in the Gospels, “Where to two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” He is present in the Scriptures, because he is the Word of God. He is present here and now in the Eucharist, the Bread of Life. And He is present in each one of us, when we open ourselves, open our hearts to Him. He is present in the joys of life that we all have experienced. He is present with us during the challenges of life, guiding us, inspiring us, supporting us with power of His Love. And He is present with us during the tragedies and sufferings that sometimes afflict us, helping us to bear the load, helping us to carry our daily crosses, comforting us when we are grieving.
Christ’s Resurrection is a sign of hope for us, that suffering and death is no longer all that we have to look forward to. The power of sin and death is broken forever, humanity has been transformed.