Easter Sunday - The Resurrection of the Lord - The Mass of Easter Day
Reading 1 ACTS 10:34A, 37-43
Responsorial Psalm PS 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23.
- (24) This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
Reading 2 COL 3:1-4
Sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes
Alleluia CF. 1 COR 5:7B-8A
- Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel JN 20:1-9
Homily—April 1, 2018 Easter Sunday
Happy Easter to you all! Thanks to all of those helping with music ministry and to all of those who helped decorate and create this environment of Easter and New Life. A special thanks to all of you present and for all of those praying with us at home. Thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and now Easter Sunday through your gift of ministry to the parish from altar servers to Eucharistic ministers, hospitality ministers, to lectors, to sacristans, and ushers. It takes a community to raise a child and it takes a community to make a parish.
I find it very appropriate that Easter falls on April Fool’s Day! The devil thought he had won with Jesus dead and buried in the tomb when Jesus rises from the dead and says I am not dead but alive!
I have been thinking about my friend, Fr. Mark Reasoner, who died at the age of 53. A few years ago we played golf at Pheasant Ridge in Cedar Falls and we both purchased new golf bags that were identical except for the color. On March 18, Fr. Mark celebrated the two Sunday morning Masses at St. Jude’s in Cedar Rapids before returning to the rectory. He had fainted during the 8:30 a.m. Mass something that had been happening with some frequency and he had been checked out by a doctor. Fr. Mark was quite independent and resisted going to the doctor every time this happened. When they checked on him in the afternoon they found he had died. What a blessing for him to have celebrated two Masses before his death; but certainly a shock for everyone else. I wonder why he gets called home so early in his priesthood.
I believe that Fr. Mark was ready and was open to what would be. Are we ready for God to conquer death in our lives? Each of us has experienced loss, and sometimes it can be comforting to hold on to this loss. We want to visit the tomb. We remember the way things were. We see the burial garments are left in the tomb, as a symbol of a past that is no longer present. The disciples will never experience Jesus in the same way. His earthly ministry is over. Something new is in store and it is something wholly unexpected. With respect to our own personal losses, those moments will never be the same. God will bring something new, wholly unexpected from those crises.
The first indications of Jesus’ resurrection were the discovery of the empty tomb. Jesus’ battered body is nowhere to be found; and the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head is “rolled up in a separate place.” If someone was going to rob the body of Jesus they certainly would not have unwrapped it before moving it. The women who discovered the empty tomb pondered its meaning and reported to the remaining disciples. For most of the disciples the empty tomb was not enough for them to believe in the resurrection.
After today’s Gospel reading, Jesus begins to reveal to his friends the reality – and the mystery – of his resurrection. He appears first to Mary Magdalene and later to his disciples. Clearly what he has experienced is no mere resuscitation. His divine nature, all but totally veiled on Good Friday, now shines forth unambiguously in the Risen Christ.
What difference does the resurrection of Jesus make? Look at Peter, from his failure to understand the Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead and his hiding behind locked doors he becomes the bold and fearless preacher of the Good News.
We never will grasp fully the mystery of the Resurrection, but like Peter we can allow it to transform us. We are not promised exemption from suffering and pain but his resurrection assures us that God has the final word, and it is one of transformation, light and new life. Bishop Robert Barron addressed those who say that Jesus Resurrection is a myth prefaced by something like “once upon a time” or “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”. He states:
But listen to Saint Peter’s kerygmatic sermon reported in the Acts of the Apostles: You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee. . .how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He is not lulling his audience with “once upon a time” musings; he is inviting them to remember a very particular time and very particular places. And then, after declaring the fact of the Resurrection, Peter says, with breathtaking directness: he [was made visible] to us. . .who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. This is simply not the way myth-makers talk. This is the language of a man who is reporting something that happened.
To understand this is central to grasping the revolutionary power of Easter.
I would like Jesus to appear to me but I want to believe without seeing. Jesus raise me to new life and into a resurrected body when I die. May it be so for all of us one day.