Joy of the Gospel

“Christ, our Paschal lamb, has been sacrificed!” (1 Cor 5:7)

Easter Sunday 9 April 2023
“Christ, our Paschal lamb, has been sacrificed!” (1 Cor 5:7)
Acts 10:34,37-43; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; John 20:1-9
Today we celebrate the victory of Christ over death. The victory which was brought by the sacrifice of the Cross. Christ being the Lamb of sacrifice.
In a passage in which Paul condemned incestuous behavior by one member of the Corinthian community, he exhorts the Corinthian community to get rid of every sin whenever they prepare to celebrate their liturgical sacrifice. Among the Jews the day for the preparation of the Passover when lambs were slaughtered was the same day for the Preparation of the festival of Unleavened Bread. On this day, the Jews removed all leavened bread from their houses. The unleavened is the symbol of purification. On the day of the festival only the unleavened bread was eaten. In his First letter to the Corinthians Paul employs the image of leaven as a symbol of the old yeast, the yeast of malice, corruption and evil. In the Gospels, Jesus used the image of the leaven to warn his disciples against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Mark 8:15). For Paul, leaven is opposed to the unleavened bread. He exhorts the Corinthians to celebrate the feast of the Passover with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth(1 Cor 5:8; cf. Gal 5:9). When the sons and daughters of Israel escaped from Egypt in a haste, they took the unleavened bread. Symbolically, they had to leave behind everything overburdened them, the burden of sin and the york suffering.
Today as we celebrate Easter, we are reminded that Christ, the paschal lamb has been sacrificed. He was sacrificed for our sins. Taking it from St Paul, in the light of the risen Christ, the Church should become unleavened, stainless, free from all kinds of impurities and from all corruption. The image of the Church as an unleavened community is the best witness to the world which is often antagonised by some leavened members of the society. We are exhorted to celebrate Easter as our new Passover and our new Exodus. Thus, we have to leave behind the past life of sin and start a new life in the risen Lord. We in Africa, we pray and exhort our governments to usher a new spirit of Easter to their citizens by fighting poverty and bringing to an end all forms suffering.
In the Gospel, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark. Mary was a disciple of Jesus. St Luke tells us that Jesus delivered her from demoniac possession by (Lk 8:2). With great love she followed Jesus up to the cross. The emphasis of St John that Mary came to the tomb while it was still dark is symbolic. It is a symbol of disbelief. Mary Magdalene had not yet believed that Jesus had risen from the dead and that is why when she saw the empty tomb, she jumped to the conclusion that Jesus had been stolen. She wanted to share that belief with Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved. The two disciples ran to the tomb and the other disciple arrived first and saw the burial cloths. When Peter arrived, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the soudarion that had covered the head of Jesus. These were symbols that pointed to the fact that God had entered the story of our salvation. Unlike Lazarus who was raised and came out of the tomb wrapped by cloths, which were symbols of death, Jesus rose and came out of the trappings of death. Death had no power over him anymore. Christ, “Christ broke the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld” (The Exsultet). We rejoice on this day because by his resurrection Christ “liberates us from sin, … he opens for us the way to a new life” (CC 654).
We pray that as we celebrate Easter this year we may be liberated from the trappings of death like corruption, injustices, poverty, diseases, all forms of violence, interstates wars, human trafficking, drug abuse and the abuse of vulnerable persons.
St John tells us that the other disciple saw and believed. He believed that Jesus had risen. We too pray for the grace to believe in the Risen Lord. The story of Jesus, the son of God does not end with the events of Good Friday when Jesus died and was buried. His full story is, He died and rose from the dead. He is alive. He is not in the grave. He lives forever.
May our Mother who on Easter day had her tears wiped away pray for us. AMEN