Monday, April 21, 2014
Easter homily - "Desperate for the Resurrection"
When early Christians greeted each other on Easter Sunday, one said to another (in whatever language), “Christ is risen!” The other would reply, “He is risen indeed!” I have done this every year that I’ve been here, and joked about greeting each other on campus like that. But, people have done that! I have been greeted that way by you, and I’ve heard that you’ve greeted each other like that. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
About 30 of us watched the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” on Friday night. It is incredible. I was reading the other day that a movie and book have come out on the miracles from “The Passion”. The producer of each says there are more than 70,000 stories of miracles and conversions from that movie. One involves a murderer who turned himself in after watching “The Passion”. It was obviously a fruitful production. It’s accurate and powerful….very powerful. It’s tough to watch, of course, because you walk with the Lord every step through his passion and death.
If we walk with the Lord, the passion is brutal, but the Resurrection is so sweet. Think about his experience in coming back to life. His body died, and his soul left his body. We say in the Apostles Creed that He “descended into hell”; he spent three days freeing the good men and women from the Old Testament to Heaven. His soul then returned to His body, and His body is alive again. Just about all of the marks from His Passion are gone. His tortured body is now pristine and glorious. He has triumphed over His enemies…his wounds…sin…and death. As much as we agonized over Christ’s crucified body, we rejoice even more in his risen body!
We can have a resurrection experience in this life. It’s different from Christ’s in that it involves death and rising of His body. Ours would be death and coming back to life of our soul. Souls are immortal, so they don’t die forever. But, they can die to sin. There can be a lack of life…a lack of anything good. The person whose soul is in this state of mortal sin and goes to Confession, walks out of the confessional like Christ walked out of the tomb. They are risen! Or, maybe someone whose faith seems dead…someone who is just going through the motions…someone who doesn’t get anything out of Mass or prayer…and then have an Epiphany or “ah ha” moment…a grace-filled experience that breathes life into their souls. They rise up in faith!
Eight GW students became Catholic last night at the Easter Vigil. Today’s Washington Post has a story about the record number of adults becoming Catholic in the Archdiocese of Washington this year. Over 1,300 came into the Church last night in our area! They are the faces of new life in Christ through Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist. Their old selves have died; the new selves live.
Our community in general is desperate for this Resurrection experience…desperate for Easter and Spring after a long winter and semester…after a long, long month filled with tragedies on campus. We had a memorial Mass at Newman last week for one of the students who died recently. More than 100 people jammed our chapel to pray together and remember Carlos Pacanins. Dozens of his family and friends spoke at the end with stories, memories, and reflections. So many of them – almost all of them – spoke of Carlos as if He is in Heaven or on the way. They spoke of his Resurrection!
Finally, we could say (but won’t) at every Consecration at Mass when the priest holds up the Host and Chalice, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” The Eucharist is the Risen Body and Blood of Christ. At that moment, we are supposed to whisper what St. Thomas said, “my Lord and my God”. It is truly Him and He is truly risen. That’s our man. That’s our God . That’s Him who created you and saved you. That’s Him who loves you and sees you as good. You are good and you are loved.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!