Archbishop Barrry Hickey
Easter reminds us through the resurrection that God has power over life and death, and has the power of eternal life.
If we pause to think about it, we realise there is no other power like this, no other person who can exercise power like this, and nothing that is as important as eternal life.
We also remember that this God of power and might is the God who loves us, the one who was born in the stable at Bethlehem.
But even the awesome power of the resurrection is not the full story of Easter. The full story is that Jesus has made the power of the resurrection available to us through the Sacraments. As Pope Leo the Great said, ‘what was present in Christ at the resurrection is made present to us in the sacraments’.
This is what we should think about most at Easter because Jesus wants us to enjoy the life of the sacraments throughout our lives. Let us not waste it.
The sacramental life begins at Baptism. When Jesus was baptised in the Jordan, the Blessed Trinity was revealed to mankind: Jesus was present, the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove; and the voice of the Father was heard identifying Jesus as “my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased.”
After the resurrection, Jesus told the Apostles to baptise all people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus, through the power of the resurrection the life of the Blessed Trinity is made available to us.
At his first appearance to them after the resurrection, Jesus gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins, and thus gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that when we are weakened by sin we can call on the power of the resurrection to recover the grace of God in our lives.
On the day of the resurrection, Jesus reaffirmed the Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist he had instituted at the Last Supper. He spoke at length to two disciples who did not recognise him, but in the evening “they recognised him in the breaking of bread”. We grow in our recognition of Jesus each time we receive Holy Communion, the bread of eternal life.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles with the result that through Confirmation we have the gifts of the Spirit available to us.
The Sacrament of Marriage, decreed by Christ when he revealed that couples are joined together by God and must not be separated, was strengthened by the power of the resurrection so that couples can call on that power to ensure that they live their promise to love one another for as long as they live.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders was revealed in Jesus bestowing on his Apostles all of his authority to teach, to heal, to forgive, and to give us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. The Anointing of the Sick is a renewal by priests of Christ’s laying on of hands to heal the sick.
In these sacraments, the amazing spiritual power of the resurrection is a daily gift to us, a gift that will change our lives and transform our world if only we will let it.