Today we celebrate Easter Sunday. We celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus who died but has been raised and continues to live among us for all eternity. We celebrate the event that is so central and basic for our faith that St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, could say that, if Christ had not been raised, our faith is in vain and we who claim to believe are the most pitiable of men! (1 Cor 15: 11 - 19)
It is such a wonderful thing to celebrate, "wonderful" in the rich meaning of the word. It is also so wonderful that it may seem unbelievable. The Gospel accounts of the Resurrection tell us that it was difficult even for the close followers of Jesus to believe. Mary Magdalene, the doubting apostle Thomas, the Emmaus duo, the fearful Eleven in their locked room- all doubted at first but the power of God's grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit of the Risen Lord changed their doubts and fears into conviction and commitment.
But there is more to what we celebrate today than to celebrate what happened more than two thousand years ago. We celebrate the living presence of Jesus among us and in our world today. The Gospel narratives tell us that the Risen Jesus, before his Ascension into heaven, promised his disciples that he would be with them forever, until the end of the ages. Today, therefore, on this Easter Sunday, we celebrate what we believe, that the living Jesus is still with us. The living Jesus is with us as our companion in all the joyful moments and, perhaps especially, in all our suffering moments.
Jesus who was sent by the Father to show God's love for our world still lives and experiences the problems of the world, of war and racial hostilities, of "natural" and man-made disasters. The Risen Lord, still living among us, is still the light of hope and the challenge for all of us to live our faith.
How can we find and see the Risen Lord present among us? If our Easter faith is belief that the Risen Lord is still and always with us, how can we see him and where can we find him? Surely we hope that we will see the Risen Jesus face-to-face when we ourselves have been raised on the last day. But part of our Easter faith is that even now we can experience the Lord present among us.
Jesus is present to us in what may be called "hidden" forms: Christ in the Eucharist is one example. When we receive and share Communion at Mass we receive the Risen Lord in companionship with our worshipping brothers and sisters. The Eucharist brings us into intimate contact with the Lord, risen from the dead and alive with us. We meet the risen Lord when in the Eucharist we break Bread with one another.
The Risen Lord is present with and among us in our companionship. Jesus tells us that "where two or three gathered in my Name, I am there among them." (Mt 18: 20) In a very special way the Risen Lord is present in those who are in need among us, so that whatever we do or do not do for the needy ones, we do or do not do for Jesus (Mt 25: