Here is an unspeakable secret:
Paradise is all around us, if we could but understand it.
Paradise is wide open, if we could but know it.
Words of Thomas Merton.
Paradise is all around us; paradise is wide open.
That’s what this morning is all about.
Jesus said to the thief who was crucified alongside him:
This day you will be with me in paradise.
He says to you and me: This day you are with me in paradise.
It’s not a paradise we have to wait for.
It is not a paradise we have to earn through being good. It’s a gift.
It is not a paradise that will be there sometime in the future.
It is a paradise that is here. Right now. In this very moment.
Because of Good Friday. Because of Easter Morning.
Something special and remarkable has happened in our world.
The veil between earth and heaven has been pierced
Love has come flooding through and new life has been made possible.
A new dawn has broken in upon our world; God’s kingdom has come.
We are the first-born of a new creation; we carry a light of new hope for our world.
A light that says paradise is all around us and it is wide open.
Do we know that? Can we believe that?
The resurrection of Christ, Easter morning, changed everything.
What Christ achieved for us through his death and resurrection,
changed everything we have ever been taught about where true power lies in life.
Easter says to us you don’t have to be strong; you don’t have to win;
you don’t have to keep ahead of the game;
you don’t have to make anyone proud;
you don’t have to be a success or an achiever;
you don’t have to stand out and shine; you don’t have to compete;
you don’t need to fulfil ambitions – yours or anyone else’s;
you don’t have to strive to be what you are not.
This day tells us that you and I are fine just as we are.
In all our failings, under achieving, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities.
It tells us we are loved. That we are created by love. Sustained by love.
Grounded in love. And daily immersed in love.
Love that is so beautiful it will go to hell and back in order for us to experience it –
which is exactly what Jesus did.
Good Friday plus Easter Sunday = Love without limits. Love in all its fullness.
As Thomas Merton tells us. Paradise is all around us.
Paradise is right here, right now.
Paradise is in every joy we feel. Paradise is in every pain we encounter.
We simply have to trust the love that created us –
Trust the love that is central to our being.
If we can learn to trust it and surrender to it,
then all our joy and all our pain; all we experience in life,
will draw us ever closer to God – closer to who we truly are in God’s eyes.
This is the day of resurrection –
the door to paradise, the door to love, is wide open.
As we renew our baptismal vows and get sprinkled with the waters of life,
let’s open ourselves to it and allow to penetrate our lives and our relationships.