It may be known as a Seventh-day Adventist Community, but it was Loma Linda’s Catholic residents who were front and center Sunday, packing the pews at St. Joseph the Worker Church to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.
Three masses were scheduled for Easter Sunday. About 200 attended the 9:30 a.m. service led by Father Edward McGuinness. A handful of the overflow crowd watched from the vestibule.
Many of the city’s Catholics come from the Bryn Mawr area of the city. Residents with Latino backgrounds -- who can trace their family history to the citrus workers who worked the endless groves in the area -- still live in the town and attend St. Joseph.
Father McGuinness retired from a parish in Riverside, but often helps at the small Loma Linda church. He talked to the followers about the power and the meaning of Easter and the resurrection.
“God the father raised Jesus from the dead on Easter Sunday and the life he gave to Jesus was a totally new life, a new creation,” McGuinness said. “Jesus came back as Lord of the universe; The center of creation.”
“That’s what we mean when we say that resurrection is a new creation. The world is made new. We are made new. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything.”
Easter commemorates the slaying of Jesus and the resurrection of Christ, the corner-stone of the Christian faith, according to Catholic Online. It is also the oldest feast of the Christian Church, as old as Christianity, the connecting link between the Old and New Testaments, according to the site.
Below is the sermon delivered by Father Edward McGuiness on Sunday at St. Joseph the Worker in Loma Linda.
The Theme we have today is that Christianity is a power given. Christianity is a power given. That’s the essence of our faith. So let's carefully consider what Holy Scripture means when it tells us that Jesus has risen from the dead.
I think it’s useful to compare the experience of Lazarus with that of Jesus. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been dead long enough for the body to have begun to decay. But when Jesus when to the tomb and cried out, “Lazarus, come forth,” his friend was given life again. And he walked out from the tomb.
Lazarus was restored to the old life he had before he died. He came back the same old Lazarus, and like all of us one day in the future, he would have to die. Oh, it was a great miracle, but it was in a totally different category from the astounding miracle of Easter.
And we are mistaken when we say that what happened to Lazarus, happened to Jesus. Lazarus was resuscitated by Jesus. He came back, as we have said, to his old way of life.
But resurrection is in a totally different category from resuscitation. God the father raised Jesus from the dead on Easter Sunday and the life he gave to Jesus was a totally new life, a new creation.
Jesus came back as Lord of the universe; The center of creation.
That’s what we mean when we say that resurrection is a new creation. The world is made new. We are made new. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything.
The world is now shot through with the glory of God for those of the faith to see. And the followers of Jesus now have access to the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
And as you’ve often heard, we are a resurrection people. And Hallelujah is our song. And so my brothers and sisters, in the face of this greatest of all mysteries, we have to keep going back to this simple sentence: That Christianity is a power given to us.
That’s what it is. And if people understood that, there’s no way they would ever give up their faith. People give up their faith sadly because they think it’s an obligation imposed and they want to escape the obligation.
But that’s not what the faith is about. The faith is a power given to us.
The Gospel Accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus make it clear how different he was. He did not come back to as the same Jesus. He was now changed by his resurrection. He was no longer bound by the limits of time and space. Jesus could appear in the garden, on the road, in a room and locked door, locked doors and strong walls couldn’t keep him out.
He could change people. The heart of the disciples walking to Emmaus burned in his presence, because he was the risen lord. Simon Peter, who had been afraid of the sermon girl, boldly stood up to the authorities in Jerusalem because he had been given the power of the risen Lord.
And the Apostles, who had run away when Jesus was arrested, now rejoiced when it was their turn to be arrested because they had been given the power of the risen Lord.
And St. Paul, the great persecutor of the church, became it’s greatest visionary a preacher and a martyr to the truth of the resurrection.
And you can hardly read the page of St. Paul without hearing of the resurrection. The resurrection is a power given to us.
So my sisters and brothers, let’s always remember that the resurrection of Jesus is at the basis of our faith.
St. Paul tells us if Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead there would be no basis for our faith. The enemies of the early Christians knew this. They listened to the preaching of the Apostles. And they always preached about the resurrection.
A small group of Apostles were once thrown into prison because of their preaching. And after they were caught, they were called by temple authorities who said, “We’re going to let you go free this time and you can continue your preaching if you like, but in the future do not mention the resurrection.
The Apostles replied, “Sorry, we can’t do that. We have to obey God, not man. And God commands us to preach the resurrection. ”
My dear brothers and sisters, it’s very hard to exaggerate the importance of the resurrection and especially the tremendous influence it has over evil in all its forms.
Jesus was different after his resurrection, as we have seen. And so too was the entire universe, especially the evil that is in our universe. Death is the first evil and by his death, Jesus conquered death.
His death changed the meaning of death forever. And that’s why sometimes my brothers and sisters, even through it’s very sad, it can be consoling at the deathbed of a true believer.
But it wasn’t just death that Jesus conquered. He overcame evil in all its forms. Evil would never be the frightening thing it was before the resurrection. Think of some of the evil that surrounds us and that are within us: Fear, jealousy, hatred, sickness, disease, misunderstanding, frustration, ignorance, weakness and temptation, sin, all of these have been defeated by Jesus.
That’s why we’re so happy today. You know in the old days, instead of preaching on the resurrection, what the preachers were asked to do was simply to stand up and tell a series of jokes.
I have a whole string of Scottish jokes and I’d happy just to do that. That’s what used to happen in the old days because resurrection meant joy. Oh the appearance is that evil is still there and still powerful but it’s not really powerful and it’s not really there because it has been defeated.
Jesus wants us to turn to him, especially with any kind of evil that threatens and he wants the glory of the resurrection to shine through even in the midst of our suffering and weakness.
Trust Jesus, he has already fought all our battles. He has already come out victor and he offers us the victory. He offers us the power by which he conquered.
After Jesus rises from the dead and appears to his followers what greeting does he give them? I’m sure you all know. He always uses the same greeting, “Peace be with you.”
That’s what Jesus says to us now, peace be with you. He wants us to enter the new peaceful world created by his resurrection.
His resurrection has merited for each one of us the grace of being a beloved son or daughter of God the father. Jesus has merited for us the same experience that he had.
And what experience did Jesus have? What was his main experience in the course of his life? He was resting in the wrap and cradled in the arms of his all loving father. And when we feel that, that’s the power of the resurrection. That’s the Kingdom.
How do you know if you’re in the Kingdom or not? If you feel at peace, if you feel loved by God. If you think this is true of you as it was of Jesus, the heavens open and a voice comes from heaven and it calls you by name and it says this is (your name) my beloved son, my beloved daughter in whom I am well pleased.
Then the father sends you the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit cries out within you “abba, abba, father, father, father thank you for loving me as you love Jesus." When you experience that you experience the Kingdom.
Until you do, you’re not really in the Kingdom. That’s the message here. That’s the message. Don’t be afraid, for the resurrection of Jesus has conquered evil in all its forms. And apply that to yourself, it has especially conquered and destroyed your sings forever.
That’s why we’re happy today.