Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's only hope if it's true (Easter homily)

The Resurrection is a fact.
Jesus really died and he came back from the dead.

The entire Christian Faith, every bit of it, stands--or falls--
on whether what I just is actually true.

We might value Christianity--and church--
because it makes us feel good.
Because coming to Mass, especially on Easter, 
is a soothing or happy experience.
Or because of treasured memories we want our kids to have.

Those are all good things.
But, to be blunt, going to Disneyland does all things, too.
The only real reason for this church to be here--or any church--
is because, yes, Jesus did actually rise from the dead.

Notice the Gospel says that when Peter heard the women’s story,
He ran to the tomb. 
Too much was at stake. He had to know if it was true.

And I don’t know why any of us would be any different.

Of course, most of us likely won’t face the Apostle’s dilemma.
What, really, does being a Christian cost me?
I mean, I could have had meat on Fridays. OK.
I could have more free time on Sunday. OK.
What else?
Well, for each of us, the answer is different.

This is where the celibacy of priests and religious has meaning.
The reason we don’t marry isn’t because marriage is bad;
On the contrary; it’s wonderfully good.
But we choose to give up a good thing, 
as a sign that there’s something even better we’re waiting for.

And this is why Christians save themselves till marriage.
Because marriage itself isn’t just about the couple.
It isn’t just a legal arrangement.
It’s a forever-covenant that shows Christ to the world.
Waiting for marriage is an act of generosity.
And it bespeaks the supreme dignity of our human nature--
that what we have to give, is given to just one, 
and then we give all.

It’s the choice we make when we say, 
I could make a few extra bucks, cutting corners, 
or squeezing my workers, or cheating my boss, 
Or lowering my standards--but for Christ’s sake, I won’t.

So I can’t say what it costs you to follow Christ;
I will only say that, in all honesty, 
I don’t think I’ve paid so big a price.
And maybe I’m not the only here who can say that.

This is where Jesus’ words, “take up your cross” hit home.
This is where, 
“go, sell what you have and give to the poor” has it’s bite.
And maybe this is what Pope Francis is getting at
When he says, can we be poor, and serve the poor, better?
The more we really believe we are rich in Christ,
The less tightly we hold onto the riches of this world.

Do we really believe it? Did he rise from the dead?

The holy father said this, in Rome, tonight:
Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life!
If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward.
He will receive you with open arms.
If you have been indifferent, take a risk:
you won’t be disappointed.
If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him,
be confident that he is close to you,
he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for
and the strength to live as he would have you do.

In a moment, we’ll renew the promises of our baptism.
When I ask you, do you believe, 

we might think of those who face arrest and death 
Because of their “yes.”
And we might think about what our “yes” means 
after this Easter Sunday.

The women in the Gospel, who met the angels  at the tomb,
did not say, “How nice, but we won’t impose this on anyone else.” 
They hurried to tell everyone. The Apostles did the same.
They knew they had powerful to offer.
The hope of forgiveness and new life.
But it’s only comforting, it‘s only hopeful…if it’s true.


Shelly said...

Excellent homily. Thank you!

truthfinder2 said...

Thank you, Father! That was excellent, and gives me much food for thought.--- Rosemary