“I Love Chocolate Bunny Ears“
Father Peter Fitzgibbons
April 23 – 24, 2022
Gospel: Jn 20:19-31
This past week ends the octave of Easter. People say, “We wish you Easter joy.” Thank you! Can you define Easter joy? Is it the day for biting the ears off Easter bunnies? You barbarians! I love chocolate bunny ears. I’ll be a real man and say it. . . I love chocolate bunny ears! Anyone who wants to make fun of that, I’m a real man and can take it. However, I don’t do the hard-boiled egg thing. Is Easter joy about having lamb with mint jelly? You know what I had for Easter dinner? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You know why? I was out of SpaghettiOs. Welcome to bachelor living!
So, what is Easter joy? Easter joy exists on two levels. . .intellectually and internally. We can have it on an intellectual level by knowing that our dear Lord suffered and died for our sins and then rose again. In doing so, He opened the doors of Heaven for us so that we might have eternal life. We all now have a chance to get to Heaven, and He showed us the way. He also gave us the means to get there. What are the means in which we can get to Heaven? Through the Sacramental Life of the Church. The source of our internal joy is the gift of the Sacraments and by taking advantage of the gifts He gave us by His sacrifice, death, and resurrection. From His wounded side, the one that Saint Thomas touched, flows the Blood and Water to the Sacramental Life of the Church.
The Sacraments are the life of the Church. Our Lord ordained the apostles on Holy Thursday and later gave them the power to forgive sins. We still hold to that tradition in the Church. I’m ordained a priest, and I said my first Mass with my bishop. After that, in the sacristy, I received a document called “faculties” which gives me permission to absolve people from their sins. Only a priest and a bishop can act in the person of Christ. They celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and therefore, have the power to administer the Sacraments of the Church which are the fruits of our Lord’s Passion and death. . .the Holy Sacrifice. Only a priest or bishop can do that. Remember what is said during the Mass? “This is My body. This is My blood.” I don’t say “This is Christ’s body. This is Christ’s blood.” During the Sacrament of Penance, I act in the person of Christ. I don’t say “Christ absolves you.” I say, “I absolve you” . . .not the “Church absolves you” or “We absolve you” but “I absolve you” while acting in the person of Christ. The words are very important so that we can have that joy inside of us, and so that we may have the joy of Easter and the fruits of it.
Through our Good Lord’s Passion, death, and resurrection, we are strengthened so that we can follow Him. It is through our own Calvary’s and our own resurrections that we can be with Him forever. Pop quiz: When do you receive the Holy Spirit? At Baptism. “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.” When is the second time you receive the Holy Spirit? Penance. Penance comes before Holy Communion. One happens before the other. During Holy Communion, you receive the Savior. What does He save you from? Our sins. If you aren’t sick, there’s no need to see a doctor, and you’re just wasting the doctor’s time.
In the Sacraments, you see the full Divinity. . .all of It. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. You may be thinking, “In Confirmation, you also receive the Holy Spirit.” I like it when I get asked that question. Yeah, that’s true but we don’t subdivide God with a little slice here and little slice there. When you receive the Sacraments, you receive all of God, not just parts of Him. This is how we internalize and experience the joy of Easter, especially the joy of the forgiveness of our sins. And the joy of receiving our Good Lord like the apostles did from His own hands. That’s why I am the only one who gives Holy Communion. I am the priest acting in the person of Christ, so I give you Communion by my own hand. It’s not that I think that much of myself – I really do – but it is Christ who feeds you. I am a symbol of Christ, acting in the person of Christ, so it is He who feeds you the Body of Christ. It is the fruits of our Good Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection.
That’s how we experience Easter joy. It’s not from all the beautiful Easter flowers – we got a great deal on them by the way. It’s not from how beautiful the church looks – and it does. True Easter joy comes from experiencing God’s love. Love that was forsaken by sin and rejected by sin. But that’s not the end of the story. Most people are happy when they see their loved ones. In my family, we were happy when they left . . .but, that’s just us. Aren’t you happy when you have your loved ones with you after being separated from them before their visit? So too is our Lord. We have Easter joy by God coming down and infusing His very self into our souls for our salvation. That is true Easter joy.
How will you apply this message to your life?
You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to AnnunciationCatholicAlbemarle.com, clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” and then “Sermon Notes.” Sermon notes can also be found on the Church Facebook page by searching for “Facebook Our Lady of the Annunciation Albemarle”