Easter begins where Good Friday left us, in darkness. The darkness is both figurative and literal: the sky darkened in mourning as our Savior hung on the cross, and surely no nights have ever seemed darker than those two that followed that terrible day. Then on that first Easter morning, St. John tells us, "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb," to see if what Jesus had said just might be true.
On Easter Eve, we will gather in darkness to proclaim what she went to discover, that what Jesus had said, what God had promised, is still true - "He is risen." Beyond all the preparations, all the rehearsals, all the errands, all the traveling that Easter entails nowadays, beyond music, flowers, and liturgy, these three words are still the most powerful, most important part: "He is risen." The gates of Hell are smashed apart; the power of sin and death is broken; the captives are set free; and we are given new life. All because of those three simple words. Not since God spoke "Let there be light" has one phrase so changed the fabric of creation and the course of human history.
With Christians at all times and in all places, we gather again this Easter to repeat those three words, not only to remind ourselves of their meaning but to proclaim to all who are still yearning to hear the Good News that good has triumphed over evil, love has conquered hate, and life has beaten back death. In the words by Matt Maher:
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave
This is the great truth of Easter, the simple, ancient, and eternal message that needs no embellishment or explanation: He is risen!