A New Year and A New Easter
Jesus: Our Hope and Savior!
Deacon Patrick Constantino | Photos Maddie Pascual
Not Dead Anymore! He is risen and alive in our hearts and lives forever!
He is the only one who can help us with our problems and fix it! But we must have faith and believe!
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was drawing, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” Matthew 28:1–10
Good morning, and welcome to our celebration of Easter, the most important day in the history of humanity, the day when Jesus Christ rose from the grave, defeated the power of death and secured for us eternal life. Christians all over the world begin their celebration this day by loudly proclaiming some variation of the word “Alleluia!” which means “Praise the Lord!” So, I invite you now to say it with me—Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
It’s a powerfully moving thing to think about churches all over the world in nearly every tongue celebrating Easter in their own unique way. But not every celebration turns out the way we hoped.
Our passage begins, “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
“Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’ ”
Just ten verses capture for us the totally unexpected, earth-shaking, life-changing power and promise of Jesus’ resurrection. And I don’t want any of us to leave here today the same people we were when we walked through the doors.
We need to experience Jesus’ resurrection as if we were witnesses to it, as if it were happening this very morning/evening. Every person who experienced Jesus’ resurrection exhibited a permanently changed life afterwards. They were not the same people. Their attitudes, their priorities, the focus of their lives changed radically because they witnessed the risen Christ. And if we truly understand the power and the promise of Jesus’ resurrection, then we will be permanently changed by it too!
All of our celebrations through the year, Lent, Advent, Ordinary Time, Feast, are all the same! But what makes a difference in our life are the experiences we go through in different times in our lives! It is the same teaching but we should look at it in different experiences, time and what’s going on in our life and world!
For starters, Jesus’ resurrection turns our grief into joy. Through Jesus, our greatest enemy, death, has been swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:54) Our bodies may die but our souls will rise to eternal life because Jesus gave his life as a ransom for us and defeated the power of death. We no longer live in fear of death and decay, and we do not grieve as those who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) Our grief is tempered with joy because we know God is faithful to His promise one day He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death nor mourning nor crying nor pain. (Revelation 21:4) And we are called to live in the assurance of God’s promises now, to live joyfully now, to live as children of the resurrection now. Not just on Easter Sunday but every day of our lives until the day when those promises are finally and joyfully fulfilled!
Jesus’ resurrection has also turned our separation into reconciliation with God. That’s the second promise we receive through his life. Remember when Jesus was dying on the cross, only the women and the beloved disciple John were with him. All the other disciples ran away. So when the angel told the women to go quickly and tell the disciples Jesus was going ahead of them to Galilee, what were they expecting? Were they afraid Jesus would condemn them? That he would punish them for abandoning him?
If so, they didn’t worry for long. As the women ran from the tomb, Jesus suddenly appeared to them and said, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers … Those aren’t words of condemnation.
Those are words of grace. Even though the other disciples had abandoned him, Jesus still called them brothers and assured the women there was no reason to fear. As John tells us, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Jesus certainly had good reason to reject or condemn his disciples after his resurrection. But he died specifically so his blood would be the final sacrifice that covered over our separation from God. His death healed our separation and restored our relationship with God.
And the final thing we learn from the Easter story is Jesus’ resurrection is not the end but the beginning of a whole new story. This isn’t like an old Western movie where all the good guys ride off into the sunset together. Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of a new life for his followers. It is the beginning of a new calling, to go make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It is the beginning of a new adventure in living as Jesus would live in our families and communities and schools and workplaces. And if we are followers of Jesus Christ, that is our new story too! It will not be the same oh, same oh!
It’s important to note after Jesus’ resurrection, his followers endured persecution, imprisonment and death in order to spread the message of his life to the ends of the earth. They were so certain this obscure carpenter from Galilee was the Messiah sent from God that they staked their lives on it. What about us? Can we remain neutral? Will we leave here the same people we were when we came in this morning?
I pray when we leave here today, our lives will be marked by the joy, reconciliation and courage flowing from the power of Jesus’ resurrection!
May God, who is risen in us this Easter, continue to live in us, forever! Happy Easter! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Jesus, I trust in You! Apo Jesus, agtalekak kenka. Amen!
On July 1, 2022, Patrick Constantino retired as a Deacon for the Roman Catholic Church in Hawai‘i, after serving for thirty-five years and becoming on June 18, 1987, the first Deacon of Filipino ancestry for the Roman Catholic Church in Hawai‘i. For twenty-two years, he served as Administrator at Holy Rosary Church in Pā‘ia, St. Rita Church in Ha‘ikū and St. Gabriel Church in Ke‘anae. His last assignment before retiring was at St. Joseph Church in Makawao.
Prior to his ordination, Constantino was in government—first appointed in 1966 as Assistant Sergeant of Arms by the Speaker of the House Elmer F. Cravalho. When Cravalho became Maui’s first Mayor, Constantino became his Executive Assistant—the first of Filipino ancestry. Later, Constantino became the first County Treasurer of Filipino ancestry and the first County Grants Administrator and Risk Manager of Filipino ancestry.
Constantino is married to his lovely wife Corazon for sixty-one years.