Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Resurrection & the Eucharist (Sunday homily)

 The title of my homily is, “The Resurrection and the Eucharist.”

It’s all bound up together.

Let’s start with the Resurrection. 

To be totally clear, that means Jesus really died,

and his body came back to life. That is what we believe.

Saint Paul says elsewhere in Scripture,

If Jesus did not rise from the dead, our faith is worthless.

There is no Christian Faith if this did not actually happen.

Notice also, Jesus says that he has the same “flesh and bones” 

that each of us has. He eats food in front of them so they can realize: 

he’s still human, just as they had known him before.

Now, it is true that after Jesus came back from the grave, 

his body had qualities that you and I don’t have. 

He would appear and disappear for example.

You can explain this by saying, “He’s God,” and that’s true.

But what’s really, really important to pay attention to is this:

What Jesus shows us, is what he promises to give us.

Let me say that again so it sinks in:

What Jesus shows us, is what he promises to give us.

To put it another way: everything Jesus has, we too will have!

You and I will rise from the dead.

We will have our bodies back – new and improve – forever!

No more eyeglasses, no more pills, never again to say, “I’m too old!”

This not only tells us what to look forward to,

it teaches us that our bodies matter right now.

A lot of people today, even a lot of Christians, 

make the mistake of thinking, 

their bodies don’t matter, only their feelings matter.

This feeds so much of the confusion right now,

about male, female, identity, marriage.

But you and I aren’t only made up of feelings:

my body, your body is part-and-parcel of who each of us is.

Of course we wish we could escape our body:

if only I could eat whatever I want?

If only I could stay up late, and not be exhausted the next day.

*(Look at this whole difficulty of gender confusion –

which is a difficult trial for those involved.

But it’s the same idea: the body doesn’t matter, only feelings matter.

(The sad thing is, people are discovering very painfully 

that this is not true.

This doesn’t get reported widely:

So many folks who experience this interior conflict 

will go on and take powerful drugs and have surgery, 

all in order to become the sex their feelings say they really are.

(But it doesn’t work. They remain unhappy, 

or are even more sad and conflicted.)

This is a hard lesson to learn: 

you and I really can’t escape our bodies and ourselves,

and all the challenges and limitations involved.

Every single person experiences some sort of conflict:

my body won’t do what I want; I wish I looked like him, like her. 

I wish I could be young again.

There is no going sideways, there is no going back; 

only forward into the redemption that God has in store for each of us.

There’s something deeper at work here.

All human beings experience this fundamental drive to rise higher,

to become more than we are.

Why is this? Because God made us for eternity and for life with him!

But when people turn away from God, 

they seek that “more” in counterfeit ways that will all fail.

Whether it’s politics, or technology, or pleasure or “self-fulfillment,”

or whatever ways we try to “reinvent” ourselves, 

without Jesus Christ at the center, all these things will fail.

Jesus is the model: he shows himself to us, saying:

this is who you really are, and who you can be!

And he shows us his wounds: you and I have wounds, he understands!

We don’t have to be ashamed of them. Suffering can be redeemed!

And then he says, “you are witnesses of these things.”

One of the powerful ways you and I show others 

that Jesus is real and alive and powerful

is when we show our wounds and how Jesus heals them.

Like Jesus’, our hurts don’t always go away;

they are part of us, but they don’t control us.

Do not be surprised or discouraged 

when you and I pay a price for our witness to Jesus. 

Very rapidly now, that price is going to grow much higher.

The Apostles, the martyrs through the ages, all faced the same.

Why should we expect anything different?

Did I forget to talk about the Holy Eucharist?

Not really. I’ve been talking about the body: Jesus’ body and our body.

What is the Eucharist? Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity;

and what happens when you and I receive Jesus’ Body?

He changes us – our body, our soul – into him! 

Who Jesus is, what we see in Jesus, is what you and I will become: 

the Eucharist will do that to us!

A lot of people think of Holy Communion only as an “it”; 

but we know the truth: the Eucharist is a “who”! Jesus!

When the disciples saw Jesus on that first Easter,

They were overwhelmed. So are we! 

The reality of what happens here is just too big for us to grasp. 

But Jesus says, “Be not afraid!”

Is this only a happy story; or is this the reality that defines all reality? 

Because if Jesus is real – really risen from the dead, and really here, 

his real Body and Blood, right here, for us –

then ours a faith worth giving everything for, even our lives!

In receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, we receive his Resurrection life, 

his resurrection strength. 

He gives us courage to say, Jesus is real! Jesus is alive!

* Some passages are in parentheses because I'll be giving this homily at the First Communion Mass, and I may leave these sections out. 

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