Sunday, April 08, 2007

Why should anyone believe you? (Easter homily)

If you witnessed a man die…

A man who changed your life;
an extraordinary man,
something much more than a man—
how can it be possible?
The Son of God!

You saw that man die—you witnessed it;
and then, you saw him come back from the dead—
I don’t mean 20 minutes later,
after the paramedics show up;
On the third day—after he had been in the tomb—
you saw him come back from the dead.

If you saw that, what would be different?

Peter and others saw that.

If you wonder how convinced Peter was,
Recall, he died rather than deny what he witnessed.
Oh, we know Peter
denied the Lord before the crucifixion;
But after seeing the empty tomb;
after seeing the risen Lord with his own eyes?
Peter died on his own cross, rather than deny Jesus!

And he was far from the only one.

Our faith is founded on certain facts:
Jesus lived, Jesus taught, Jesus changed lives;
Jesus was arrested,
Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered, died and was buried.

And he rose from the dead!

To be a Christian is to profess:
these are facts—they happened.
If we don’t believe they happened, we are not Christian;
and if they, indeed, did not happen?
Then our faith is foolish.

How do we know these are facts?
Because there were witnesses—
and they preserved their testimony.
That is what the New Testament is.

The Gospels were written
only shortly after these events.

The writings of the New Testament
were most likely complete by AD 100.
What wasn’t contributed by the Apostles themselves,
was completed by those who, like Luke and Mark,
were in their company.

As you know, there are those
who cannot stand these facts,
and the Faith that rests on them.

So, every few years, someone comes along,
saying he can disprove the whole thing.

Somebody finds a box of bones and says, "It’s Jesus!"
Never mind the world’s archeologists are embarrassed,
and the TV channel pulled the show!

The better question is why?
Why must people discredit the apostles’ testimony?

The answer is, the Cross stands over the world,
as a rebuke—and a judgment.

But what truly gives the Cross power is that he rose!
Lots of innocent people get murdered—
what convicts the world
is that God-became-man was murdered!

Jesus came back from the dead and ignited the Church.
The Church has been his presence in the world ever since.

Beginning with the Apostles,
the Church has been lifting up Christ, saying,
"Your Lord calls you to new life—will you accept?
He will forgive your sins—will you accept?"
Many fall to their knees in adoration.

But there are many who cannot tolerate it.
The Cross says God cares very much about us;
but many prefer a God who minds his own business.

To say, "Repent, and believe in the Gospel,"
is to say, we can be more than we are;
we don’t have to live like this—
and that is offensive to those who say,
we’re no more than animals, ruled by our baser natures,
and that’s all we’ll ever be.

The Cross says to the world, you need Him!

So we face opposition. So it has always been.
That forces us to consider: do we really believe?

You and I believe this Gospel
because of those who were witnesses;
they died rather than deny what they saw.

And that depth of conviction—
Peter, James, John, and the rest—
is what convinced the next generation,
and the next, and the next…down to the present.

Why do you believe it?
More importantly, why should anyone believe you?


EC Gefroh said...

Happy Easter Father.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful homily. Have a great Easter season Father.


beez said...

Fantastic Homily, Father.

Isn't that really what it's all about.

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal Life. We have believed and have known that thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."