Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday Homily 2013

I belong to a Franciscan Third Order Fraternity that meets at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston.  One of our spiritual directors was a Franciscan priest by the name of Father Philip.  Now Father Philip was originally ordained in the Eastern Rite, before transferring to the Roman Rite.  Now members of the Eastern Rite are Christians, who are like the Eastern Orthodox, but they recognize the authority of the Pope and accept Catholic doctrines.  Now there is an Eastern Rite practice that on Easter, people greet each other by one saying: “Christ is Risen!” and the other responding “He is risen indeed!”  Now at the first Mass he celebrated with us after Easter, Father Philip came out and greeted us enthusiastically with “Christ is Risen!”  Now some but not all of us knew the response, there was a weak “He is Risen indeed!”  This was not good enough for Father; he repeated the greeting: “Christ is Risen!”  The response came back a little stronger: “He is Risen indeed!”  But Father Philip was still not satisfied, he repeated the greeting louder: “Christ is Risen!”  And this time we responded with gusto: “He is Risen Indeed!”  Father Philip nodded and began the celebration of the Eucharist.

Now I ask that we take a closer look at that declaration, “Christ is Risen!”  Present tense!  It is acknowledging a reality that is happening here and now, not something that occurred only is the past.  Jesus Christ is our Risen Savior; he is present, here, now.  As he said in the Gospels, “Where to two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”  He is present in the Scriptures, because he is the Word of God.  He is present here and now in the Eucharist, the Bread of Life.  And He is present in each one of us, when we open ourselves, open our hearts to Him.  He is present in the joys of life that we all have experienced.  He is present with us during the challenges of life, guiding us, inspiring us, supporting us with power of His Love.  And He is present with us during the tragedies and sufferings that sometimes afflict us, helping us to bear the load, helping us to carry our daily crosses, comforting us when we are grieving. 

Christ’s Resurrection is a sign of hope for us, that suffering and death is no longer all that we have to look forward to.  The power of sin and death is broken forever, humanity has been transformed.

This mornings Gospel speaks of Peter and the other disciple seeing the empty tomb.  It reminds me of a scene from the miniseries, “Jesus of Nazareth,” by Franco Zeffirelli.  In the scene, the Temple official who had pushed for the execution of Jesus; arrives at the empty tomb, looks into it, and I believe says, “Now it begins; now it all begins!”  The Resurrection was and is a new beginning, those who witnessed, those who saw Jesus after he rose from the dead, were compelled to go out and proclaim to the entire world the Good News.  We, when we encounter Christ, also must give witness to the joy of that encounter by the way we live our lives, by the way we strive to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our witness may be public for the entire world to see and hear; it may be hidden, shared with, or witnessed by only a few of our family and friends.  However it occurs, we cannot be silent, and we cannot keep this Good News hidden.     “CHRIST IS RISEN

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