The brackets for March Madness have been filled and all participants long to experience the thrill of victory demonstrated by hands raised in triumph, crowds going wild, and a cooler full of ice water falling down the face of the coach. The scene of the players practically toppling on one another as the buzzer alarms at the end of the game is enough to put a smile on the face of even the most stoic person. Yes, it is difficult to put into words the feeling of the adrenaline rush after winning a championship game. It may make you wonder, “Could any other victory be as glorious as this?”
The emotions described above may be a slight exaggeration of the feelings surrounding March Madness, but there is still an element of excitement and suspense as the championship draws near. Any good fan desires to see a victorious ending. Fortunately, regardless of the results of the basketball games, we all have the opportunity to celebrate a victory that has ramifications that will last eternally, a victory that is greater than any team on this earth could accomplish, a victory that fills our deepest longings. This ultimate victory is our Lord’s triumph over sin and death.
Each year, hundreds and thousands of people across the world stream into churches to celebrate Easter. Can we imagine the life that would be exploding from the church if everyone present truly grasped the meaning of our Lord’s victory? By dying and then rising from the dead, Christ showed us that He is victorious over all. Neither sin, nor death, nor fears can compare to His all-consuming might and power. It is as if the strongest man alive freely chose to be bound in what was thought to be the most powerful chains. After everything was set and He was bound tightly, He exhibited His strength and ability to break through those chains. As a result, He proved to everyone present that He is stronger than the chains that were thought to be insurmountable. Yes, our Lord is even stronger than death itself and we can declare triumphantly the words of Saint Paul, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15: 55).
The Resurrection is so essential in our life of faith even though we may often take this truth for granted. Have we ever thought about what our lives would be like without the hope of the Resurrection? We would rightly live in despair! Saint Paul once wrote, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” [1 Cor. 15:14]. Without the Resurrection, we would have no reassurance of eternal life, we would have no justified hope in all the truths of our faith, and we could not declare our Lord and Savior as our ultimate Victor.
However, as Christians, we are given the beautiful opportunity to embrace the truth of the Resurrection and live in hope. “For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ” (1 Corinthians 15: 21-23). Our Lord “created us out of love and draws us to himself with infinite love,” (Compendium of the Catechism), and He desires that we spend eternity with Him. What we experience in Heaven will be more wonderful than anything we could ever imagine; it will be the fulfillment of all of our greatest desires. Through the resurrection, we are given the reassurance that we can also rise again and that our death will not be the end. What a victory cheer will rise from our hearts at that moment!
As we enter the church this Easter Sunday and embrace the familiar sound of songs with “Alleluia” and the scent of fresh flowers, may we allow the truths of this ultimate victory to permeate every aspect of our being. Let our prayers ascend as we truly celebrate the joyous declaration of victory that is the cry of all the faithful on that day – Alleluia! He is risen!