Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Sunday - homily

They “saw and believed”.

I wish all of you a very blessed Easter! Christ is risen…He is risen indeed! When I was in the parish, a woman who was a friend of a friend came to me for a blessing. She was going into surgery with the hope of removing a brain tumor that gave her constant pain throughout her body and sidelined her from activity with her kids for years. I laid my hands on her and showered her head with Lourdes water (miraculous water from Lourdes, France). When she went in for surgery, the doctors didn’t recognize her…the tumor was gone! For all intents and purposes, it was a miracle. As much physical healing as she experienced, she has had more spiritual and personal healing. She has made a big comeback in her Catholic faith, her marriage is much stronger, and her family is more united. She saw and believed.

A priest many years ago in Europe stopped believing in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. He didn’t believe anymore that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass. But, he made a prayer to our Lord: ‘Lord, help me in my unbelief’. One day, he offered Mass. At the consecration, he elevated the host…the host began to bleed. Drops of blood came down from the host onto the altar. The Church would declare it a miracle of the Eucharist. The priest believed again. He saw and believed.

In the parish, we had Eucharistic Adoration for an hour every Friday night. People really got into it. Adoration is soooo awesome! Some nights, kids from the school came over with their classes. One night, students from the 3rd and 5th grades were there. They prayed for almost the whole hour! Sure, they ran out a few times for bathroom breaks (actually running through the Church…d’oh!). But, they were into it when there. Afterwards, they made comments that it was “awesome” and “inspiring”. I walked away thinking that they got it. At such a young age, they got it about the Eucharis: that it really is the Body of Christ. Most adult Catholics don’t get it – 70% believe the Eucharist is only a symbol. They get it and they are set for life in terms of their Catholic faith. They saw and believed.

I visited a man in the hospital who was on his death bed. While I was there to anoint him, he asked for Confession. He said it had been 50 years. 50 years. He was worried that God would not forgive him because it had been that long. I told him the story we heard on Good Friday, about the thief next to Jesus on the Cross who asked for mercy in the last hour of his life. Jesus gave him a promise that He gave to no one else in the Gospel: “today you will be with me in paradise”. I said to the man that the Lord gives him the same promise. He got it and tears of joy rolled down his face. He saw and believed.

We just heard the Gospel where Peter and John saw and believed. We normally think of Thomas as being the only Apostle who had to see to believe. But, they all did in one way or another. Peter and John saw the empty tomb, the others saw that , the witness of Peter, John, or Mary Magdelene, or they saw the risen Christ who walked the earth for 40 days. They all saw and believed.

If we have lost our faith, is it possible to see and believe again? Yes. Of course. One of the biggest highlights for me in my first year here has been a discussion group of about 8-10 students. They were “Catholic all-stars” in high school: going to Mass, inviting others to come to Mass and youth group, etc. Then, they came to college and lost their faith which is pretty common. But, through this group they are making a serious comeback in faith. They have seen Christ this semester: hopefully through me, the group leader, the teachings, the Eucharist, Confession, etc. I’ve met with two of them separately in the past two weeks for an hour and a half each time for Confession, Adoration, prayer, etc. They are back and their faith is amazing! They saw and believed again.

The common thread in all of these stories (other than seeing and believing) is that each of these people took action. They didn’t just sit idly by and say, ‘God, give me faith’. They went to where He is. They all did something about it. The woman came to me for a blessing, the priest celebrated Mass, the kids came to Adoration, the man in the hospital asked for a priest, the Apostles went to the tomb, and the students have come to the discussion group every week. They have put themselves in a position to see and believe.

Let us be like them so that we may see and believe. It happens primarily through the Eucharist; it starts with Sunday Mass….EVERY Sunday. Then, if possible, daily Mass which we have at the Newman Center Monday through Friday at noon. It is much more intimate and personal than Sunday Mass (and shorter!). Daily Mass is where so many people see and believe in Christ. Whether it’s through daily Mass, Confession, Adoration, prayer, Scripture, etc., let us see Christ and believe that He is risen…that He is real. Let us join the group of those who have seen and believed.

No comments: