Given by the Most Reverend Stephen E. Blaire at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton.
When the soldiers came to Jesus on the cross and saw that he was dead, one of them thrust a lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. The Church finds profound meaning in this episode from John’s gospel. The blood symbolizes the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the water symbolizes the sacrament of baptism. The Church sees herself born from these two sacraments. She sees herself fashioned from the side of Jesus.
Dear sisters and brothers, WE are the Church.
On this Easter Sunday, we gather as the Church to renew our baptismal promises. The world hungers for justice and goodness. In the renewal of our baptism we reject all injustice and evil. The world hungers to find a purpose to life. We have found the meaning of life in the waters of baptism and in professing our belief in God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The cleansing waters of baptism flow again on this Easter morning giving us a rebirth of faith. Christ heals us in mind and heart. We are refreshed by the Holy Spirit. Easter flowers symbolize for us the springtime of life. No matter our age, Easter is a springtime of grace.
On this Easter Sunday, with purity of heart and the right intention, as the Church we celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Our consciences are cleansed by the blood of Christ. We are made holy by the food of the Eucharist. To receive this sacrament worthily demands of us a dedication to live our lives with charity towards all. We must set aside harsh words and every kind of mean spirit. God has forgiven us. And others need our friendship and love.
On this Easter Sunday, the Church finds herself once again suffering from sins and crimes committed by some of her members and clergy. The blood and water which flowed from the side of Christ can purify us. The Church must ever reform herself to be in conformity to Christ her Head.
The Church indeed has been fashioned from the side of Christ. As the Church we are made holy by the sufferings and death of Jesus. From our baptism into Christ, from our participation in the Eucharist, we are raised up with Jesus so that we might share with Him in the fullness of grace and eternal life.
May this Easter be a springtime of grace for all of us!