Once upon a time, sometime ago, I shopped for an Easter card. While I enjoy beautiful Easter cards with deep theological messages, one caught my eye and made me laugh. Picture a photograph of the 1950’s with mom in the kitchen preparing the dough for Easter bakery. She wears an apron and smiles broadly down at her daughter who stands beside her looking up at mom. Under the picture the caption reads: “Moms mentor their daughters the best to prepare for the holidays. One holiday, Fannie learned how to crack an egg, how to add the flour and yeast, why to preheat the oven, and, oh, that it’s best to unplug the beaters before licking them.” Inside the card read: “Oh, Happy Easter.”
In the words of St. Paul, “Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough.”
During the forty days of Lent, what kind of old yeast did we uncover in the tombs of our lives? St. Paul tells us that the old yeast smells like “malice” and “wickedness.” Malice is nothing less than nastiness and meanness. And wickedness runs the entire gambit from plotting evil to stupid tomfoolery. But, hey, this Easter, and on Easter Day we need to hear a good word.
So, how do we become fresh batches of dough? Remember, a little yeast leavens all the dough. The answer might be found in Peter’s exhortation in ACTS. Jesus “went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil for God was with him.” His works and his mission were so dynamic that not even a tomb could contain him. In fact, when we study St. John’s words closely, we understand that the Risen Crucified Lord rose right through the burial clothes. And just last month, when scientists travelled down into the Holy Sepulcher as they were cleaning it and excavating it, the electromagnetic field was so strong their equipment shut down.
The Risen Crucified Risen calls you and me to be fresh batches of dough by doing good and setting people free. St. Paul is correct in his advice today on Easter Sunday. If we want to really sort things out for the next fifty days, what if we learn a lesson from our Jewish brothers and sisters who celebrate Passover this week? That advice is this: out with the old and in with the new. In Judaism, in the days before Passover, the entire refrigerator is cleaned out. Everything is pitched, including open food packages, cans and containers. Clean up the old habits. Open the doors of those closets and basements. Sweep out the cobwebs. Vacuum the corners. Pull open the stone that covers the tomb of our hearts. Stop that evil habit of mind; live sincerely. So, to show the world that we are sincere we now stand and turn to the font of life to renew our baptismal promises.
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.
Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord