Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday - homily

In the early Church, people would greet one another in the following way to celebrate Easter. One person would to say, “Christ is risen!” And, then, the other would say, “He is risen indeed!!” So, let’s try it here. We have a full Church, so this should rock! I will say ‘Christ is risen’, and you say, ‘He is risen indeed’. “Christ is risen…HE IS RISEN INDEED!” Wow, that was good. On behalf of Fr. Mike and the entire staff here at St. Andrew’s, I wish you and your families a very blessed and joyous Easter.

For God, all things are possible. We hear that so often…today, among all days, it is played out. Years ago, when I was out of the seminary, I was working in sales. One of my co-workers and I started talking about faith just before Lent one year. He was raised Catholic but didn’t go to Church much. He’s a nice guy, and a lot of fun. But, he was really struggling with life, and admitted to living with a lot of fear. He began to ask a bunch of questions about our Catholic faith; I was very interested to try to answer his questions. We kept talking more and more, and then HE made a deal with me. He said that if I write one Scripture quote on his bulletin board every day during Lent, then he would go to Confession at Easter (it had been 25 years since he’d been). I said sure!

So, I wrote a Scripture quote every day on his board that was pertinent to his life – even did it on Saturdays and Sundays, just to be sure! Then, at Easter time, he went to Confession. He told me it was for an hour and a half! And, at the end, when the priest laid his hands on him to give him absolution and the blessing, my buddy felt chills go up and down his spine. I told him that was the Holy Spirit.

He had struggled so much after losing his Dad a few years before that, battled problems with alcohol, and had no prospects for getting married. He called me a few weeks ago to tell me that he’s getting married. To hear the peace and happiness in his voice is remarkable. He living in faith now, not fear. He has found his way out of the darkness and found life. He has had a Resurrection experience.

With God all things are possible. We have spent the past few days recalling the events of Christ’s suffering, passion, and death. He really suffered. That was really his body and blood on the Cross. The man was dead. What must have the Apostles and disciples been thinking during those two days- ‘he’s gone…he died like everyone else before him. Was he not the Son of God? Was he a liar and a blasphemer?’ Then, we hear the joy they experienced on the third day. He is no longer dead. He is alive! The same flesh and blood that was dead on the Cross is now alive. Christ has won victory over death! With God all things are possible.

Each one of us is going through, in some way, what Christ went through in his Calvary. Each one here today – young, old, whomever – is carrying a Cross and walking through Calvary. Maybe because of the death of someone close to you recently, family problems, problems with alcohol or drugs, peer pressure, anger, hatred, loneliness, rejection, unforgiveness…because of your sins or the sins of others, whatever - you are carrying your Cross. The Resurrection shows us that we can get through Calvary, we can get through our suffering and go to the other side. We have the hope that God will win victory over our Cross. With Him all things are possible.
Every Sunday, not just today, is a feast of the Resurrection. How awesome would it be if our Church were this full every Sunday! We not only hear about the event of the Resurrection and think about Christ’s rising, but we see the risen body of Christ…in the Eucharist. It is the same risen Christ who appeared to the Apostles and disciples who appears to us in a few minutes. I said on Good Friday that at every Mass we are witnesses to the Crucifixion, and that’s true – Christ’s sacrifice is re-presented on the altar. But, what has happened since the Crucifixion? The Resurrection. So, the Eucharist is the RISEN Body of Christ that we see and receive in Holy Communion. We come here to receive the risen Lord, and then to go forth from here as witnesses of the Resurrection.

There is a tee-shirt out there about a basketball player, Lebron James. I love basketball, and Lebron, you’re cool. But, the shirt says “WITNESS” on the front, as if we are witnesses to him like he’s the next Messiah or something. When we leave Mass, it’s like we are wearing shirts that say “WITNESS” on the front, and “TO THE RESURRECTION” on the back. We have seen the Risen Christ, and have received him in the Eucharist, and then we go forth to witness to him and to his love.

As you receive the risen Body of Christ today, may you know his peace, joy and love. May you experience the joy of the Resurrection after having gone through Calvary. May you know God’s love this day and all during the Easter season.

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