The emptiness of a woman whose beloved husband died is deeply painful. The emptiness of an elderly person in a nursing care facility who has no one to visit him causes more suffering than his many physical ailments. The emptiness of a man addicted to pornography grows ever more burdensome, since the more he tries to satisfy his insatiable lust with these images, the emptier he feels. The emptiness of a heart without love is almost like being dead.
On Easter we hear of a parade of people going to see what turns out to be an empty tomb. Their own emptiness at losing a friend, a healer, and a Savior just days before is compounded as they wonder how anyone could be so cruel as to steal his body. Yet their emptiness is filled to overflowing with unfathomable joy when they actually see and experience the risen Lord Jesus. He is no longer a person living only in the past tense, but one who is now alive and opens for them a future, since he will never die again and will be with them always.
That same Jesus who appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, bringing them such joy and filling them with such a fire that they could do nothing but go out to all the world to tell the good news, is here with us today. We may not see him as they did, but, as he said to doubting Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” We rejoice during this Easter season not only for an event that happened 2,000 years ago but for the continued, living presence of Jesus, especially in the Eucharist. There he speaks his living word to us, and there he feeds us with his own body and blood, sacrificed to take away our sins. It is there that the risen Jesus, who ascended into heaven beyond our sight, becomes the Living Bread come down from heaven for the life of the world.As we welcome new members into our Church this Easter Vigil, we embrace them not just as additional members of an organization, but as members of the living Body of Christ that continues the healing and reconciling ministry of Jesus in the world.
Though we may perceive the Mass as empty, it is like that glorious tomb from which Jesus rose up triumphant, because there Jesus fills our emptiness with his unfathomable joy. It is this transformation from our emptiness in sin to our fullness in God that causes us such profound joy as we look forward to sharing the Good News with all the world.
May the risen Lord touch your wounds and emptiness, and may he send you forth to proclaim the good news of his undying love! Happy Easter to all!