An ancient Jewish legend says that after God created the world, He asked all the angels what they thought of it, and one of them replied, “It’s truly wonderful, Lord—but one thing is lacking: the sound of praise to the Creator.” In response, the Lord thereupon created music, and it was heard from then on not only in the songs of the angelic choirs, but also in the whisper of the wind, in the songs of the birds, and in the harmonies of human voices (Knight’s Master Book of 4000 Illustrations, p. 632). In regard to music, sometimes everything comes together in a holy and wonderful and even miraculous way. Once, due to a scheduling mix-up, no musicians were present at a revival service in Austin, Texas, so at the request of the pastor and the missionary speaker, the song leader prepared to lead the large audience in a song of praise a capella, without any instruments. However, all three of them heard, from the direction of the empty piano bench, what sounded like a thousand-piece orchestra tuning its instruments—and just as the song leader began to sing, the entire invisible orchestra broke into harmony and played along (Joan Webster Anderson, Where Miracles Happen, p. 126). A similar event occurred at an Easter service in London, England; as the small congregation was singing “Alleluia,” the people realized their hymn was growing in magnitude and volume—as if they were being accompanied by an angelic choir. Someone actually recorded this song on tape, and a music teacher who later analyzed it discovered that the highest notes were almost three octaves above middle C—which is far above the range of any human singing (Anderson, op. cit.). It’s certainly not impossible that there are angels in our choir loft right now, ready to join in our hymns of praise—and even if we don’t see or hear them, this image is an appropriate one. Thanks to the Resurrection of Jesus, the possibility of eternal life—something once beyond our grasp—is now offered to us, and for this reason, Easter truly is a celebration of the wonderful and miraculous union of heaven and earth.
When Mary Magdalene, and then Simon Peter and the other disciple, discovered the empty tomb, they didn’t know what to make of it at first; they didn’t yet realize that God had decisively intervened in our world by raising Jesus from the dead. The Kingdom of God and life here on earth miraculously came together or intersected, and everything was forever changed. St. Peter describes the significance of what happened, explaining that on the third day God raised His Son and allowed Him to be seen by the witnesses He had chosen in advance, so that they might preach a message of repentance, leading to the forgiveness of sins and ultimately to a new and everlasting life. Therefore, as St. Paul tells us, we must think of what is above, not of what is on earth, living according to the values of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Through Jesus, everything has become new—and the angels and saints are watching us and praying that we will allow the ongoing story of salvation to continue in our own lives, so that we may one day join them in God’s presence.
An elderly man had been an internationally-known opera singer and vocalist, but it wasn’t until he was on his death bed that he finally opened his heart to God’s grace. His daughter saw him weeping early one morning, a few days before he died, and asked what was wrong. The man answered, “Oh, I dreamed I was in heaven, and everywhere I went, people were singing, and they wanted me to sing with them—but I couldn’t sing the songs because I didn’t know them, and so I awakened crying.” Looking his daughter in the eyes, he continued, “I’ve sung all my life, but I never learned the songs of heaven” (Knight’s Master Book, pp. 631-632). Fortunately, the man’s sorrow led to genuine repentance, making it possible for him to one day enter eternal life and become part of a heavenly choir. Today’s feast of Easter reminds us that we too must live in such a way that our lives become a hymn of praise to God. Attending Mass every weekend, praying each day, treating others with compassion, forgiving those who sin against us, and being genuinely sorry for our own sins, are all essential ways of letting God’s grace prepare us for eternal life, and of beginning to share in the life of heaven even as we continue with our mission here on earth. The angels and saints constantly sing “Alleluia” for the glory of God, and we are invited to join in this heavenly chorus—for in this way we too will proclaim the Lord’s praises and be filled with His new life and peace.