Alleluia!  This Easter proclamation that we repeat over and over again during the joyful Easter Season has a powerful meaning, one that we should all know and embrace.  It is a combination of two Hebrew words: “hallelu” (the plural imperative of “hallel”) which means “praise” and “jah,” the first half of the Hebrew word for God, Yahweh.  So, it literally means “everyone praise God!”  We should praise God always because of all the good he does for us every moment of our lives.  But Easter is the time for us to praise God with special joy because his son, Our Lord, Jesus, is risen and offers us new life!  The Easter message proclaims that Jesus, truly man – the son of Mary – really died on the cross and then overcame the power of death as he rose on Easter morning. The resurrection of the body, the central mystery of Easter, is an essential Christian doctrine.  As the apostle Paul declares so clearly: “[I]f the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised.  If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Cor. 15:13–18).  Because, as Paul tells us, the Christian life is meaningless without this essential belief, it has been infallibly defined by the Church from its earliest days.  It is included in the three professions of faith: the Apostles’ Creed, the Athanasian Creed and the Nicene Creed.  We recite the Nicene Creed at Mass every Sunday and profess that Jesus “was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day.”  It is this miracle – life overcoming death – that we celebrate with such great joy today and throughout the Easter season!  This encouraging Good News lifts our spirits in the midst of so much bad news about death due to war, civil unrest, street violence and natural disasters that surrounds us in our world.

It so important for us to reflect on our Lord’s Resurrection because it didn’t affect only Jesus of Nazareth.  It is the foundation of our eternal hope, as well.  We continue in the Nicene Creed to profess that the risen Lord “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.”  We, who work throughout our lives here on earth to bring about God’s kingdom in our midst here and now, long to be part of God’s kingdom that “will have no end.”  And so, we continue in the Nicene Creed to proclaim that we “look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”  Acknowledging that we all will die, this remarkable teaching brings us hope as we look forward to “the world to come” with its unimaginable joy in God’s presence!

Allow me to quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church which provides this poetic presentation of our belief in the resurrection of the dead:

“‘We believe in the true resurrection of this flesh that we now possess” (Council of Lyons II). We sow a corruptible body in the tomb, but he raises up an incorruptible body, a ‘spiritual body’ (cf. 1 Cor 15:42–44)” (CCC §1017).

Using the image of a plant that is sown, the Catechism affirms that we will receive an incorruptible body after death.  This means that each of us, individually, will be given eternal life.  This is our ultimate goal and one that fills all of us – faithful to God and the way his son, Jesus, has shown us – with inextinguishable joy!  As followers of the risen Lord, we look forward to a time when we will overcome death altogether and are raised to everlasting life.  Death doesn’t have the final say for us.  Our God is a God of the living and, through his son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, he leads us to eternal life with him.  Let us contemplate the new life that the risen Lord promises us during these days of Easter!  Our Lord has been raised from the dead and, aware that we are raised to new life with him, “Alleluia” is our cry!