rejoice and be glad
Easter Sunday 2022
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: April 17, 2022
“This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad!”
This refrain from the psalm we sung today is to me the best description of how Easter is to feel for us.
We rejoice, we are happy, smiles are bigger, hugs are tighter, the sun seems brighter and the world a better place!
Not because we get to have chocolate or coffee or desserts again that we gave up for Lent, though that is nice!
No – it’s because on this day, we celebrate Jesus conquering death and the gift of eternal life opened for each and every one of us!
The three days in the tomb are over, the stone is rolled away and life is never the same again!
The Son of God has risen; the Christian faith begins from this solid foundation and never turns back.
We rejoice also because we are thankful – the first verse of the psalm is actually:
“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!”
We thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed on us – especially how he hears us – we rejoice in these phrases from the psalm:
“I called on the Lord – and he answered me”
“The Lord is at my side – I do not fear”
“The Lord is at my side to help me”
“The Lord is my strength and my might”
These verses speak of a close relationship – a close connection. This is what we have been aiming at for these past forty days. Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving – we get closer to God and the path He has chosen for us.
We are becoming more and more reliant on His strength and His steadfast love!
I love the word “steadfast” in this verse – it means unwavering, unfaltering, persistent, firm, loyal and dedicated.
God’s steadfast love never wavers – it is available to us as we go through the trials and challenges of life.
And this is why we rejoice – and the word “rejoice” here is the Greek word – “chairo” –, which means to rejoice because we have a close relationship with God. We recognize and embrace His steadfast love.
This is not a stranger we have heard about or an acquaintance we casually meet – but we are to rejoice because we have a God who walks with us side by side on our journey of faith.
We have a God who wants to be as close to us as our own spouses and children, a God who wants to talk to us each and every day and help guide us to be more like him.
He makes himself available to transform us, little by little, step by step, closer and closer till we become “Christ-like”! This past Lent and truly every past Lent give us this time of focus to allow God to transform our hearts little by little.
This is His promise – I will never leave you or forsake you! I am there for you – all you have to do is ask!
This gift of joy is given to us in our baptisms and we renew it again!
In the Scriptures we are told that this gift of joy not only makes us happy but also helps to transform us!
Joy we are told can do five things:
- It makes it easier to pray – when we are in a joyful spirit, it is easier to take a few minutes and spend time with God
- It also makes us more open to the Word of God – in a joyful spirit we can listen to God’s word and He speaks to us and we are able to hear His message, as we are not clouded or distracted or frustrated with all the other things in life!
- If we are joyful, we find it easier to care for others in our lives as we are less self-focused but instead more other focused.
- When we are joyful, it is easier to forgive – if we remember the story of the prodigal son – the Father rejoiced and celebrated when his son returned – it is hard to hold a grudge when you are filled with joy and love
- And finally, when we are full of joy – it is easier to give thanks! If we think to our own lives this is true. I would say the 3 most joyful days of my own life were my wedding day and the days my two children were born. How much more joyful and thankful could I have been – I don’t think much – its this overwhelming feeling of happiness – and that is what we are called to today – give thanks to the Lord for He is good! His steadfast love endures forever!
Remember that the Greek word for thanksgiving is “eucharistia” or the Eucharist!
This is what we celebrate at mass – we give thanks for everything that God does in our lives – we thank God for being available to us, even when we sometimes aren’t looking for Him or even ignore Him – he is still there – he is still calling to us – come to me when you are weary and weak and I will give you rest!
We have so many things to give thanks for and so we want to praise God!
And so we sing “Alleluia”!
Alleluia is a conversion of the Hebrew phrase to praise Yahweh – or praise God.
We say or sing Alleluia in so many ways during this Easter season, every song, every prayer, we add it on.
It’s like loading your plate at the Mandarin buffet!! You keep loading it on!!
We load on Alleluia because we are joyful, we are happy, we are thankful and so we praise God for all he has done before, but also, just as importantly, for everything He is still doing now!
This is the day!!
The psalm does not say, “That was the day” as if it was only historical; or “one day soon” as if it’s only in the future to be happy – but instead “this is the day” the Lord has made!
There is an important message here for us – to live each day, one day at a time – to live in the present and make the most of it.
If we live in the past or focus too much on the past, it can hold us back from becoming who we are supposed to be. Some times we can live in the past and think that the “baggage” of our life holds us back from doing great things.
If we live in fear or worry about the future, it can paralyze us from enjoying what today can bring us.
The psalm tells us the Lord is our strength close at hand – we are to put our confidence in Him!
This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad!
And as Christians, we are called not only to live this message, but also to share it!
In the first reading St Peter tells us – we are witnesses! And we are called to testify to the truth, the story, and the message of God! This is not a message to the 12 apostles only, but a message to each and every one of us!
In the gospels we are told that Mary Magdalene and the disciples ran to spread the message of Christ risen from the dead. They didn’t saunter back or talk to people weeks later – they ran!
In our baptism we are called to be the running messengers – we are called to spread the message of joy!
It is truly a great message for the world right now as people have so many worries and are so busy each and every day.
The message of God’s steadfast love being available in trying times is one that we all need and one that we are all called to share. We are called to reach out in even the smallest of ways to let others know that God loves them.
It might be as small as a smile, or maybe to just stop and listen with 100% attention. Or maybe someone needs to a small visit or help around the house.
Each of these examples shows God’s joy by taking the focus away from ourselves and instead to shine the light on someone who needs us!
In the second reading we heard the same thing – “seek the things that are above”! Seek the message of joy – seek God’s love that is waiting for you!
So I ask you to make a mental note that as you start each day as you stand in front of the mirror – say this to yourself:
This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad!
Third Sunday of Easter
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: April 15 2018
Do you have the face of the Resurrection? One day on holidays I went to Mass with a few friends. The priest at the Mass looked so miserable. Certainly no joy. One friend turned to me and said, “Wow, isn’t that the face of the Resurrection!”
The mystery of the Resurrection is seen most clearly in the radical change in the disciples. After the death of Jesus, they were full of fear, hiding from the world, grieving, sad, with no idea what they should do next. The experience of the encountering the Risen Lord Jesus changed them. No longer fearful, no longer hiding from the world. The disciples saw everything in a new way. They were people who now had the face of the Resurrection. People looking at them would have now seen people rejoicing, full of gladness.
We sang in our Responsorial Psalm today, “Let the light of your face shine on us O Lord.” This is the mystery of the Resurrection. The light of God shining on us. So, we see all things, all people, in a new way. Where there is only darkness, we begin to see light, we are able to see beauty, to see goodness, where before we saw only darkness.
Pope Francis has just published a new Apostolic Letter called Rejoice and Be Glad. It is a letter to us all on Holiness. He emphasizes the universal call to holiness. All of us are called to holiness. But, it is not found in some special place or special way. It is in the ordinary that holiness is found and lived. Holiness is not to hide from the world, escape to some place away from the world. We are to live our faith in the messy world. In a world that is full of ambiguity, with light and darkness. We need to allow God’s light to shine so that we can see the beauty, the goodness, even in the dark moments of life.
True holiness does not make us miserable, serious. True holiness leads us to be people who are rejoicing and full of gladness. A holy person usually has a good sense of humour. For they see beyond the darkness and messiness of life.
Each of you is called to be holy, to become saints. Fight against anything that leads you away from holiness. Start right where you live, in the ordinary messy life you have right now. Meet the Risen Jesus who brings light even to the dark places. Bring that light to others. Are other people more hopeful, more joyful because of you?
Leave the church today and go and live the call to holiness. Go and bring with you the face of the Resurrection.