Yes, Happy Easter! Although you may think this sounds strange since Easter was last Sunday, as a matter of fact the Church celebrates Easter for eight days (today ending what we call the Easter octave). In the eyes of the Church, the Easter event of Jesus’ resurrection is so important that we celebrate it for eight days. Each day this past week we used prayers from Easter Sunday and have ended every Mass with a double alleluia. Even the first half of today’s Gospel takes place on the evening when Jesus rose from the dead.
From Father Tom
Easter is the feast of the Resurrection of Christ, the oldest and most important Christian celebration. Since the Council of Nicaea (325) Easter has been celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox (beginning of spring). While Christmas, the celebration of the incarnation, has great importance, the victory over death which we celebrate at Easter is of greater importance.
Palm Sunday reminds us of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem and ought to remind us to proclaim our faith in Jesus. We need to proclaim we are his followers as they did on the streets into Jerusalem, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Today’s responsorial Psalm refrain is: “Create a clean heart in me O God” words from Psalm 51. In the first reading, through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord says: “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts, I will be their God and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33).
One the most well know verses in the Bible comes from today’s Gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). Just before this verse, Jesus was speaking about how that love would be made manifest.
In today’s Gospel from John 2 we hear the story of the cleansing of the temple. In the story Jesus says: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up… he was speaking about the temple of his body” (John 2:19, 21). St. Paul said: “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
In today’s gospel we hear the story of the transfiguration. Some years ago I had the good fortune to travel to the Holy Land with a group of priests. We spent 10 days walking where Jesus walked and reflecting on the scriptures. It was a wonderful experience.
In the first reading today from the book of Genesis, God says to Noah and his sons: “See, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants.” God desires a relationship, a covenant, with each one of us. He established an intimate covenant with humanity through the life, death and resurrection of His only Son. These days of Lent are our opportunity to renew and strengthen this covenant with God.
In our first reading and gospel today we hear stories of the disease of leprosy. This skin disease was very contagious and as our first reading states those affected were sent to live apart from the main community. They were required to shout out “unclean” as they approached others, so that contact could be avoided.
One of my favorite saints is Francis of Assisi and my favorite quote from St. Francis is: “Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.” Those words were framed and on the wall in the rectory of my last parish. In our second reading today St. Paul says: “if I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it.”