Ernie Harwell, the beloved “Voice of the Tigers,” would open each new season of the Detroit Tigers baseball club by quoting these words, words taken from Bible’s Song of Solomon:
For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
Ernie died in May of 2010 but for those who remember him and his magnificent voice his proclamation heralded the resurrection of baseball and a new post-winter life for all Detroit Tigers fans. Quiet joy and the gift of Spring’s hope came to us each new season, thanks to Ernie’s message.
Once again Spring’s flowers and hopes are coming to us while surrounding our celebration of the stupendous resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, His bursting out of His tomb bringing us God’s life anew.
Christ is risen, alleluia!
Immersed as we are in our daily tasks of living out the lives that have been given us, we stand back now and look into the bigger picture of the life that is our in our baptism into Christ, into the life God offers us in His Son, Jesus Christ. With all of the bad news that daily comes our way I have the happy task of proclaiming good news, news of a God-given new life and the hope that come with it. Death has been changed. What was formerly considered to be the end of life has, by Jesus Christ, been changed to become birth into eternal life with God.
Suffering, death, and resurrection stamp all of life. Caterpillars pass through their life cycle to become butterflies. Nature passes year after year in an endless cycle of spring, summer, fall and winter – only to rise again each spring into newness of life. Out in the cosmos suns explode in nova’s as other new suns are born. Volcanos erupt and forest fires ravage only to be quickly followed in their wake by buds of new life. All of creation is stamped with that pattern of life: birth, growth, diminishment, suffering, death, resurrection, and new life.
Our Church, throughout twenty centuries of human history is likewise stamped with that pattern. How many times in history has our Church been declared to be irrelevant and dead? Yet even now it is coming out of its passion and suffering into a new life. With our new Pope Francis it’s all happening before our very eyes. How appropriate it is for us to witness this rebirth just as we celebrate Easter.
Christ is risen, alleluia!
Seeing reality as Christ sees it we find ourselves living in a world stamped by that same pattern. Each one of us lives in an endless cycle of birth, growth, development, suffering, death and rebirth. By His life, death, and resurrection Jesus has converted death into rebirth, a rebirth into an eternal life, and not only that but a rebirth into eternal life with God. We are surrounded by what Easter is all about.
When I look at nature I see it foreshadowing as it does the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Blessed Lord who has passed through all that we ourselves must traverse. Christ made that passage in order to be with us, to lead us, to strengthen, inspire, and encourage us, that we, too, might rise from the various forms of death in which we find ourselves into a newer, a better, and a higher life.
Christ is risen, alleluia!
For us, in our own personal and individual hearts, we need to see that forgiveness and the letting go of resentments is the key to seeing a reality that is far greater than our losses with their hurts and pains. Forgiveness is at the core of Jesus’s message and His gift for us. Next to forgiveness we need to receive our Blessed Lord’s gift of hope, and hope’s source… faith. Without those we will simply wallow in all of the bad news that daily comes to us along with the disillusionment and discouragement that springs from that daily dose. That is why our souls desperately need the daily bread God offers us. Give us this day, we pray, our daily bread. When we pray those words, what is it for which we are praying? Is it not the Eucharist that Jesus Christ suffered and died to give us? Is it not the daily nourishment of His love for us?
The great and wonderful Good News of Easter is that God is near. Our sins caused us to be separated from God. They put an infinite distance between us and God. Our Creator, our infinitely loving Father in heaven, has, in His Son Jesus Christ, opened the way back to Him. The tree in the Garden of Eden that brought death to us has been replaced by the Tree of the Cross in the Garden of the Resurrection. The seduction of Satan in Eden’s garden has been nullified by the love of the crucified Christ, a love that could not be contained by the tomb and which burst forth in Easter’s dawn, that dawn which ushers us into God’s New Creation.
The Book of Revelation, the last book in the New Testament (which is a book of hope), tells us of God’s New Creation:
“Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:3-5)
In the world that surrounds us, awash as it is in bad news, our Holy Mother the Church today once again sings her ancient song, the song telling us that God is near, that His love is with us, that human life is precious in God’s eyes, that each one of us matters to God, and that He is making us new again.
So let me now paraphrase Ernie Harwell’s season-opening words with these, words opening our Easter’s season of grace:
For lo, the cold winter of sin has passed,
The rain of our tears is over and gone;
Saints appear on the earth;
The time of singing in our hearts has come,
And the voice of God’s Spirit is heard in our souls.
Could there be any better news than that?
Christ is risen, alleluia! Have a blessed Easter!