Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday - homily

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!!

Last fall, a senior emailed me about getting back into her faith. She had not been active at the Newman Center in her time at GW and wanted to know how she could get involved. So, we went to lunch at Potbelly’s. She told me about her life and current situation; she had much good going on. She had a good relationship with her boyfriend, many solid prospects for work after graduation, and many good friends. But, something was missing; it was her faith. I listened to her and then suggested Confession as the usual first step for a Catholic to come back to the Church. She said, “oh no, not Confession”. She really didn’t believe in it and questioned why we needed to go to a priest. I laid out the reasons, mainly showing in the Gospel where Jesus gave us this sacrament and the Church’s tradition with it. Not long after that, she asked for Confession and has a few times since then. It’s amazing to see the difference in her faith since September or October. Back then, she admitted to not knowing much about her faith; now she is teaching others, including her boyfriend. She is rock solid in her faith! Their relationship is off-the-charts good now; her life is off-the-charts good now. She is very, very happy. She is experiencing new life…the new life that comes from the Resurrection.

I had to give her evidence, though. I had about thirty minutes at Potbelly’s to give her the reasons to believe what the Church teaches. We all need evidence to believe. God gives us reasons to believe that He is there and that He loves us. We just heard the evidence that He gave the Apostles and disciples with the Resurrection. The first pieces of evidence were the empty tomb and the burial cloths. The biggest piece of evidence was the Risen Christ! People saw Him walk the earth for forty days after the Resurrection. As we heard in the first reading, they “ate and drank” with Him. He was not just a ghost. They saw the evidence and believed.

God offers all of us evidence every single day that He is there and that He loves us. He gives us evidence through other people, through our experiences, through prayer, through whatever. I know that you are looking for the evidence that He is there. You want to believe; you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. So many GW Catholics have come to me this year saying that either they don’t believe that God exists or that He doesn’t love them. And, these are good kids! For different reasons, they have serious doubts; sometimes, it’s always been this way or it’s not their fault. I try very hard to give them the evidence that God exists and He loves them.

Another of our seniors has struggled to know the presence of God. He has told the story publicly of how he has been very active at the Newman Center all four years, but didn’t experience the presence of God for most of that time. It was surprising to many, especially me when he told me this in spiritual direction last year. I suggested that he make a five day, silent retreat which he did in Pennsylvania. He asked the Lord to give him the evidence that He is there and the He loves him. This God did, not just because I asked Him; I think God orchestrated the whole thing. On the retreat, he had not just a feeling of the presence of God, but an encounter with the living God. He truly experienced God’s love in his heart and mind. He has new life!

Pope Benedict has said the message of the Resurrection is that God exists. When we have a sense that God exists, we have a sense of the love of God. If you want evidence that God loves you, look at a crucifix. It is the greatest sign of God’s love for you! Some who have doubted God’s love have looked at the events of the past few days and said to me, ‘this is for everyone but me. He died for everyone else, but not me’. Two people in the past week have said this. I thought to myself, ‘what makes you so special?’ He died for all of us. None of us is worthy. This is for all of us. He shows His love through His Death, and reveals that He is alive and there through the Resurrection.

Last story which involves one of our freshmen. She has been Catholic her whole life and served in her parish and all that stuff, but never experienced the love of God. She went on conference with 40 other GW Catholics back in January. It was a weekend with about 1,500 other Catholic students in college. The climax of the weekend was Eucharistic Adoration on Saturday night; Adoration is when the Eucharist is exposed for all to adore. She had never done Adoration before. She wrote me about it afterwards, and said that as soon as she saw the Host in the monstrance, she got it about he faith…about all of this stuff. She had a huge physical and emotional experience where she felt enormous pressure coming out of her chest, was grinning ear to ear, and sobbing profusely. She didn’t know how long it lasted. She wrote that this was the first time she felt the love of Jesus Christ. Then, her powerful line: “God raised my broken heart”.

May God raise your broken hearts as He raised Christ from the dead. There are many broken hearts on this campus – not just with relationships, but with problems back home, divorce, friendships, loneliness, etc. You are looking for God in all of this. Beg Him to give you evidence that He is there and that He loves you. As you receive the Eucharist tonight, beg the Lord to give you the evidence to believe. Tell Him straight up that you need it. Through the Risen Christ in the Eucharist, may you know that He is there and that He loves you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for letting the Lord speak to us through you, Fr. Greg.