Homily: Easter Sunday, 2018

 

Easter Sunday

Sacred Heart Cathedral

1st April, 2018

Acts 10:34, 37-43   Col 3:1-4   Jn 20:1-9

Happy Easter! Let us rejoice and be glad today! And not just today. But every day for the rest of our lives. Because Jesus Christ died, and today he is alive forever!

Did you notice in our Gospel reading, that everybody is running? St. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb and when she sees the stone is rolled away, she runs to tell St. Peter and St. John. So then, Peter and John start running. They raced to the tomb. John “ran faster,” and he got there first. They were totally excited, even though they did not fully understand yet what had happened. But the most important line in the Gospel today is when St. John looks into the tomb. The Gospel tells us: “And he saw and believed.”

This is important. Because the empty tomb is the “fact” of the Resurrection. This is what the apostles “saw.” They believed because they saw that his tomb was empty.

But what about us, I wonder? Why do we believe? We did not see his empty tomb. We believe because his apostles told us what they saw and their testimony was handed down through the centuries in his holy Catholic Church.

Let me explain this another way: Some time ago, when I visited Europe, I used a camera to the best of my ability, trying to capture the vision, the emotions, the experience, and the wonder of my experiences. Later I understood the futility of such photos when I came home and tried to explain to friends what my experience had been.

The fact was that it would be necessary for the others to see for themselves what I saw, before there was any hope of real understanding or appreciation taking place. They believed me, but could not quite grasp the significance of my experiences. For those who do not understand, no words are possible, and for those who do understand, no words are necessary. That is the sense we have when reading the resurrection story. It tells of a deeply mysterious fact, but we cannot quite capture what its impact was within the hearts of his followers, that first Easter day.

St. Paul tells us in our second reading this morning, that our lives are now “hidden with Christ.” This is the blessing that Jesus promised. The blessing that comes through faith. Our Baptism makes us part of the family of God, his Catholic Church. So as his family, we gather this Sunday and every Sunday — just as his apostles used to do, just as Christians have done every Sunday since that first Easter. We gather to celebrate his Resurrection. That is what every Eucharist is!

Furthermore, Jesus gives each of us a mission, the same mission he gave to his apostles; and that is to be witnesses to his Resurrection. We have to tell others what we believe. If we return to basics, the invisible presence of the Risen Jesus will take on human features when we read the Gospel stories, and his silent presence will find its concrete voice when we hear his words of encouragement.

Let us remember that this gospel, this truly great news, is timeless and so is still for here and now. In a real sense, I am reflected by every person in that story, and should try to put myself within the story as told by Saint John today. Am I like Magdalene who told the others the news of resurrection? Or like the apostles who responded immediately by running to the tomb to see for themselves.

On Easter morning, the stone was rolled away from the mouth of the tomb. As our Pope Francis puts it so well, “We are called to be people of joyful hope, not doomsday prophets!” Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we can all have hopeful joy, and go out to share it with the world.

Jesus makes all things new by his rising from the dead, so let us make this Easter a new day for each one of us, a new beginning.

Let us live our lives with joy! Let us be more grateful, every single day, for God’s tender mercies in our lives. I wish all of you and your families Easter blessings! Blessed are you who believe in his Resurrection!

 

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