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I don’t know who is out there. I can’t see your faces. I can’t say “Hello,” and ask, “How are you” and wait for an answer. I can’t look into your eyes and wish you a blessed Easter and see your smiles. I can’t shake your hand or even stand closer than 6 feet from you—physically in real life or in YouTube land. To be safe,  I have to put this on (holds up mask).

I don’t know who is out there, but I want you to know that whoever you are, you matter! You matter to Fr. Lou and I.

But most importantly of all, YOU matter to Jesus. You matter, you make a difference, you are uniquely important to Jesus. That’s why the hole in his hand. That’s why the stone is rolled away. That’s why light came into the darkness—because YOU matter—infinitely, unconditionally, unreservedly to Jesus.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ proclaims to you that no matter what burden you bear, no matter how difficult, how painful, how lonely, how fearful, how anxious, how hurtful, how awful, how deeply caught in drugs or booze or sex or porn, or how much self-hate you bear, whatever it might be—Jesus brought it and nailed it to the cross.

Nailed it…to the cross on which he died.

And when he descended into hell, to the very depths of human depravity, to the deepest alienation of all of humanity’s history, he hurled it even deeper so that you and I could be free—free to be loved—and to love in Jesus’ own infinite love.

The good news that Peter proclaimed in our first reading is the “what” of today. “Jesus went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses of all he did.”

The good news is also a “who”, a person, Jesus Christ.

The good news is also a “why,” the “why” of God’s infinite love, mercy, freedom and hope spoken and lived in the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.

That’s “why” we are here—Jesus. Jesus is our why…

I don’t know who is out there, but Jesus does and he is looking into your eyes with resurrected love, a love that has conquered death.

Jesus is looking to the eyes of those even in the terrible sufferings that so many are enduring right now—be it because of the coronavirus; domestic abuse; loneliness; sex trafficking; loss of a job; the burden of financial debt; being away from family members; the open wounds and scourgings of a bitter divorce; or the simple, everyday challenge of everyone being home from school yet in school, home from work yet working and being with those little ones who don’t have a clue about what’s going on and need to be tended to, cared for, cooked for, loved-on and put to bed with a hug and a kiss.

Jesus looks into your eyes and says, “I suffered, died and rose for you. Yes, you. And I love you” You!

Jesus wants you to know how much he loves you, how present he is to you—no matter what. No matter what pain, hurt, disappointment, anger, rejection, despair you might be in, Jesus has conquered it!

Jesus longs for you to be free, to be loved into new life, to be raised up with him to eternal glory.

No matter that you may have turned away from him or his Church, Jesus looks into your eyes with eternal long and says, “Come home. Come to me. Let me give you life, true life, eternal life.”

Like Peter, I am a witness to this.

Like Peter, who doubted and denied Jesus as I did earlier this week, I am a witness that though this may be an “Easter like no other” as I write in my Pastor’s Notebook in the bulletin, it is for Jesus, the only Easter there ever was, is or shall be—his forever resurrection, his forever victory over sin and death, his forever “Yes, I love you. Yes, I died for you. Yes, I rose for you. It is my ‘yes’ that defeats every foe you may ever face.”

Please, I beg you, let Jesus look into your eyes this Easter.

Let Jesus roll away the stone from your heart this Easter.

Let Jesus resurrect you into the promise, the hope, the fulfillment of the longing for eternal life in, with and through his very self.

Let Jesus transform our present day tragedy into triumph; our darkness into light; our despair into hope; our death into eternal life.

Like Peter and the beloved disciple, you and I are invited to run to the empty tomb, to look in and to enter, to see and to believe, and with all our heart and soul to respond to Jesus’ “yes” to us with our “yes” to him.

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave.

Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with Him again
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave.

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O Church, come stand in the light
The glory of God has defeated the night.

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O Church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead, He’s alive, He’s alive.

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

— Matt Maher, “Come Awake”