Sunday, March 31, 2013

Day 1

Happy Easter!  Happy Sunday!

   Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord   

An irate subscriber 
called the local newspaper at midday,
demanding to know why he had not received
his Sunday morning paper.
“Norman,” came the reply, “today is Saturday.
The Sunday Times 
will be delivered tomorrow as usual.”
There was a long pause on the other end,
and you could almost hear the wheels 
turning in Norman’s head
before at last he said,
“Well—that just might explain
why no one else showed up 
for Mass this morning…”

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning…

Timing is everything, right?
And it’s no different when the eternal
breaks into what is transitory,
when God bursts onto the human scene.
Do not the Scriptures say
that it was “in the fullness of time”—
only when the moment was exactly right—
that God sent his Son to ransom us from sin and death?  (Gal 4:4-15)
Timing matters,
and divine timing matters most of all.

We’re all familiar with the first chapters of Genesis—aren’t we?—
which give us the well-known story of the creation of the world.
Over the course of six days,
God makes the heavens, the earth, and all their array,
and on the seventh day God rests.
We shouldn’t be surprised, then,
that when the Creator takes flesh
to rescue his creation,
the progression of days is anything but accidental.
Set the seven days of creation side-by-side
with the seven days of the Holy Week we’ve just completed,
and the parallels between the two are rather astonishing.
On the first day, when light was created,
Christ enters Jerusalem in triumph—
the Light from Light appearing in his own city.
On a Thursday night, as the sixth day begins,
Jesus partakes of the Passover lamb
on the same day the cattle and wild animals were created.
On that day when man was created—
and, according to an ancient tradition,
on the very same spot where Adam was buried—
the God-man was crucified that all mankind might be saved.
On the day when God rested from all his creative labors,
Jesus lay asleep in death, resting in the tomb.
And then, on Easter morning, early on a Sunday,
on the first day of the week,
the very same day when creation first came into being,
the human race is given a fresh start
as the new creation begins.  (cf. M. Mosebach)

Yes—God’s timing matters.

Unlike some other feasts—such as Christmas—
which float about through the seven days of the week,
Easter is always on a Sunday.
And that’s immensely significant:
Easter is always a Sunday,
because Sunday is always Easter.
Now, that’s not to say every Sunday should be celebrated
with chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and brightly colored bonnets.
But every Sunday—not just this particular one—
ought to be marked by a festive, holiday atmosphere.
This is the day when Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant over the grave!
This is the day when sin was vanquished
and the gates of Paradise reopened!
This is the day that sets us free—
the day of liberation for which we long!
And because of what happened today,
nothing will ever be the same again.
Which is why, from the days of the Apostles,
those who believe in Jesus have gathered on Sunday—
and not just once a year, but once each week.
Here—in Word and Sacrament—
and now—on this, the day the Lord has made—
we come together to rejoice through, with, and in him
whose resurrection gives new life to the whole world.

God’s timing matters.
And our timing matters, too.
That’s why we need to take back our Sundays.
In many ways, they’ve become just like any of the other six days,
except for squeezing in a trip to church.
We need to re-learn at our core that every Sunday is Easter.
Now, two things are essential to a true sabbath—
to a day of real rest,
to a day kept by people who know they’ve been set free—
and they are praying and playing.
To call Sunday the Lord’s Day
and then omit one or the other is to miss the point.
But “half-sabbaths” have become a specialty of our culture:
either we’ve gone to church but haven’t played,
or we’ve gone to the stadium but haven’t prayed.  (cf. T. Ryan)
Making time both to pray and to play
is fundamental to what Sunday is all about:
the day of our re-creation.

The younger of my two nieces 
just turned three last month,
but she seems to already understand 
this concept fairly well.
All through the somber season of Lent,
about halfway through Sunday Mass
she’d turned to her parents and ask repeatedly,
“Why we no sing, ‘Alleluia’?”
She’s been loudly singing “Alleluia”
(or her own version of the word, at least)
since shortly after she began to talk.
It’s absolutely her favorite part of Mass! 
She noticed—and was troubled by—its absence.
And I know of other little ones 
who’ve done much the same—
in their own way, giving voice to the great joy
which ought always to be the hallmark 
of this sacred day.
Unlike us grown ups,
they still know how to pray and play 
in the same breath.

That’s the sense of Sunday we need to recover,
because timing is everything.

Your newspaper was probably delivered as usual this morning.
May nothing else be usual about this day!
It is Easter, so it must be Sunday.
And it is Sunday, so it must be Easter.
As we, in a few moments, renew the promises of our Baptism,
let us also recommit ourselves
to a genuine keeping of the Lord’s day:
this first day of the week;
this day of play and of prayer;
this day when a tomb once found empty
still fills hearts with wonder and delight.

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad!

No comments: