PRAYERFUL EASTER GREETINGS
May the Risen Lord be a living experience to you
pervading every aspect of your life,
in your pastoral ministry. Fr. Tony
2-page- summary of Easter Sunday (April 21, 2019) Homily (L/19)
Introduction: Significance of Easter: “Easter” literally means “the feast of fresh flowers.” Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church for four reasons:
1) The Resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian Faith. It is the greatest of the miracles, for it proves that Jesus is God. That is why St. Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your Faith is in vain” (I Cor 15:14). “Jesus is Lord, He is risen” (Rom 10:9), was the central theme of the kerygma (or “preaching”), of the Apostles
2) Easter is the guarantee of our own resurrection. Jesus assured Martha at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me will live even though he dies…” (Jn 11:25-26).
3) Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement in this world of pain, sorrows and tears. It reminds us that life is worth living. It also gives us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears.
4) Easter gives meaning to our prayers: It supports our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in and around us, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven, hearing our prayers, and so gives meaning to our personal as well as our communal prayers.
Reasons why we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus (1) Jesus himself testified to his Resurrection from the dead, giving it as a sign of his divinity. (Mark 8:31; Matthew 17:22; Luke 9:22). Tear down this temple and in three days I will build it again” (Jn 2: 19).
(2) The tomb was empty on Easter Sunday (Luke 24:3). Although the guards claimed (Matthew 28:13), that the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body, every sensible Jew knew that it was impossible for the terrified disciples of Jesus to steal the body of Jesus from a tomb guarded by an armed, 16-member Roman Guard detachment.
(3) The initial disbelief of Jesus’ own disciples in Jesus’ Resurrection, in spite of His repeated apparitions, serves as a strong proof of his Resurrection. Their initial disbelief explains why the Apostles started preaching the Risen Christ only after receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
(4) The transformation of Jesus’ disciples: Jesus’ Resurrection and the anointing of the Holy Spirit transformed men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (Luke 24:21, John 20:19), into men who now were confident and bold witnesses to the Resurrection (Acts 2:24, 3:15, 4:2)powerfully preaching the Risen Lord.
(5) Neither the Jews nor the Romans could disprove Jesus’ Resurrection by presenting the dead body of Jesus.
(6) The Apostles and early Christians would not have fearlessly preached Christ as Savior and faced martyrdom if they were not absolutely sure of Jesus’ Resurrection.
(8) The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian Church, bravely facing and surviving three centuries of persecution, supports the truth of the Resurrection claim.
(9) The New Testament witnesses do not bear the stamp of dupes or deceivers. The Apostles and the early Christians were absolutely sure about the Resurrection of Jesus.
Life Messages: 1) Let us live the lives of Resurrection people: We are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits, dangerous addictions, despair, discouragement or doubts. Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the living presence of the Risen Lord Who loves us in all the events of our lives and amid the boredom, suffering, pain and tensions of our day-to-day life.
2) The conviction of the real presence of the Risen Lord with us and within us and all around us, enables us to lead disciplined Christian lives. It will help us to control our thoughts, desires, words, behavior and actions.
3) This salutary awareness of the presence of the Risen Lord within us inspires us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure and free from evil habits and addictions. Our conviction that the loving presence of the Risen Lord dwells in our neighbors and in all those we encounter, should encourage us to respect them and to render them loving, humble and selfless service.
4) We need to become transparent Christians, radiating the Risen Lord around us in the form of selfless and sacrificial agape love, mercy, compassion and a spirit of humble service
May the Risen Lord be a living experience to you
blessing you, strengthening you, inspiring you, guiding you and supporting you
in your pastoral ministry. Fr. Tony
EASTER GREETINGS & PRAYERS
Full text: EASTER SUNDAY (Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9)
Homily starter anecdotes: # 1: “He is not here.” Egyptian pyramids are world-famous as one of the “seven Wonders” of the ancient world. But they are actually gigantic tombs containing the mummified bodies of Egyptian Pharaohs. Westminster Abby is famous, and thousands visit it because the dead bodies of famous writers, philosophers and politicians are entombed there. But there is a Shrine of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and pilgrims from all over the world visit a tomb there which is empty with a note at its entrance which says, “He is not here.” It is famous because Jesus Christ, who was once buried there, rose from the dead, leaving an empty tomb, as He had told his disciples he would. Thus, He worked the most important miracle in His life, defying the laws of nature and proving that He is God. We rejoice at this great and unique event by celebrating Easter. (Fr. J P)
# 2: The greatest comeback in history: In its November 12, 2001 issue, Sports Illustrated ranked the 10 greatest comebacks in world history. Among those making the list, the following names are to be specially noted.
1. Michael Jordan, 1995. Quits basketball, only to make his first triumphant comeback.
5. Muhammad Ali, 1974. Seven years after being stripped of his title and his boxing license, defeats George Foreman in Zaire to win back the belt.
8. Japan and Germany, 1950s. They were the former Axis Powers which rose from the ashes of World War II to become industrial superpowers.
10. Jesus Christ, 33 A.D. Defies Jewish critics and stuns the Romans with his Resurrection. It was the greatest comeback of all time. And He’s been specializing in comebacks ever since.
# 3: The phoenix: The late Catholic Archbishop of Hartford, John Whealon, had undergone cancer surgery resulting in a permanent colostomy when he wrote these very personal words in one of his last Easter messages: “I am now a member of an association of people who have been wounded by cancer. That association has as its symbol the phoenix, a bird of Egyptian mythology. The Greek poet Hesiod, who lived eight centuries before Jesus was born, wrote about this legendary bird in his poetry. When the bird felt its death was near (every 500 to 1,461 years), it would fly off to Phoenicia, build a nest of aromatic wood and set itself on fire. When the bird was consumed by the flames, a new phoenix sprang forth from the ashes. Thus, the phoenix symbolizes immortality, resurrection, and life after death. It sums up the Easter message perfectly. Jesus gave up His life, and from the grave He was raised to life again on the third day. New life rises from the ashes of death. Today we are celebrating Christ’s victory over the grave, the gift of eternal life for all who believe in Jesus. That is why the phoenix bird, one of the earliest symbols of the Risen Christ, also symbolizes our daily rising to new life. Every day, like the phoenix, we rise from the ashes of sin and guilt and are refreshed and renewed by our living Lord and Savior with His forgiveness and the assurance that He still loves us and will continue to give us the strength we need.” Archbishop John Whealon could have lived in a gloomy tomb of self-pity, hopeless defeat, and chronic sadness, but his faith in the Risen Lord opened his eyes to new visions of life.
# 4: “He is risen indeed!”: You probably do not remember the name Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin. Many years ago, he was one of the most powerful men on earth. A Russian Communist leader, he took part in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. He was the editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravda and was a full member of the Politburo. His works on economics and political science are still read today. There is a story told about a journey he took from Moscow to Kiev in 1930 to address a huge assembly of Communists. The subject was atheism. Addressing the crowd, he attacked Christianity, hurling insults and arguments against it. When he had finished, he looked out at the audience. “Are there any questions?” he demanded. Deafening silence filled the auditorium. Then one man stood up, approached the platform and mounted the lectern. After surveying the crowd, he shouted the ancient greeting of the Russian Orthodox Church: “CHRIST IS RISEN!” The crowd stood up and shouted in a thundering voice: “HE IS RISEN INDEED!” Amazed and dejected, Bukharin left the stage in silence. Finally, he had learned the lesson that Faith in Christ’s Resurrection was deeply rooted in his Russian Orthodox Communist followers!
Introduction: Significance of Easter: Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church. It marks the birthday of our eternal hope. “Easter” literally means “the feast of fresh flowers.” We celebrate it with pride and jubilation for three reasons:
1) The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian Faith. The Resurrection is the greatest of the miracles — it proves that Jesus is God. That is why St. Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your Faith is in vain… And if Christ has not been raised, then your Faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins… But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Cor 15:14, 17, 20). If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, then the Church is a fraud, and Faith is a sham. But if He really did rise from the dead, His message is true! Without the Resurrection, Jesus would have remained forever a good person who had met a tragic end. People would remember some of his teachings, and a handful of people might try to live according to them. All the basic doctrines of Christianity are founded on the truth of the Resurrection. “Jesus is Lord; He is risen” (Rom 10:9) was the central theme of the kerygma (or “preaching”), of the Apostles. In fact, the seventeenth-century philosopher, John Locke, some of whose ideas were incorporated into the Declaration of Independence, wrote, “Our Savior’s Resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.”
2) Easter is the guarantee of our own resurrection. Jesus assured Martha at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the Resurrection and the life; whoever believes in Me will live even though he dies” (Jn 11:25-26). Christ will raise us up on the last day, but it is also true, in a sense, that we have already risen with Christ. By virtue of the Holy Spirit, our Christian life is already a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1002, #1003).
3) Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement. In this world of pain, sorrows, and tears, Easter reminds us that life is worth living. It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament, and in Heaven, that gives meaning to our personal, as well as to our common, prayers. Our trust in the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord gives us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears. The prayer of St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, reads: “Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ within me, never to part.”
Reasons why we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus (1) Jesus himself testified to his Resurrection from the dead (Mark 8:31; Matthew 17:22; Luke 9:22). (2) The tomb was empty on Easter Sunday (Luke 24:3). Although the guards claimed (Matthew 28:13), that the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body, every sensible Jew knew that it was impossible for the terrified disciples of Jesus to steal the body of Jesus from a tomb guarded by an armed, 16-member Temple Guard detachment. (3) The initial disbelief of Jesus’ own disciples in His Resurrection, in spite of His repeated apparitions, serves as a strong proof of His Resurrection. Their initial disbelief explains why the Apostles started preaching the Risen Christ only after receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. (4) The transformation of Jesus’ disciples: Jesus’ Resurrection and the anointing of the Holy Spirit transformed men who were hopeless and fearful after the crucifixion (Luke 24:21, John 20:19), into men who now were confident and bold witnesses to the Resurrection (Acts 2:24, 3:15, 4:2). (5) Neither the Jews nor the Romans could disprove Jesus’ Resurrection by presenting the dead body of Jesus. (6) The Apostles and early Christians would not have faced martyrdom if they were not absolutely sure of Jesus’ Resurrection. (7) The Apostle Paul’s conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a zealous preacher of Jesus supports the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection (Galatians 1:11-17, Acts 9:1, Acts 9:24-25, Acts 26:15-18). (8) The sheer existence of a thriving, empire-conquering early Christian Church, bravely facing and surviving three centuries of persecution, supports the truth of the Resurrection claim. (9) The New Testament witnesses do not bear the stamp of dupes or deceivers. The Apostles and the early Christians were absolutely sure about the Resurrection of Jesus. Anglican bishop and New Testament scholar N.T. Wright have commented incisively that if Jesus had not been raised bodily from the dead, Christianity would never have survived as a Messianic movement. Wright says that the clearest indication to a first-century Jew that someone was not the Messiah would be his death at the hands of the enemies of Israel. That the Church of Christ endured as a Messianic religion is possible only on the assumption that the Crucified One was, nevertheless, objectively alive.
Exegesis: The Resurrection of Jesus had certain special features. First, Jesus prophesied it as a sign of His Divinity: “Tear down this temple and in three days I will build it again” (Jn 2:19). Second, the founder of no other religion has an empty tomb as Jesus has. We see the fulfillment of Christ’s promise on the empty cross and in the empty tomb. The angel said to the women at Jesus’ tomb, “Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? He is not here: he has been raised” (Luke 24:5-6). The third special feature is the initial disbelief of Jesus’ own disciples in His Resurrection, in spite of His repeated apparitions. This serves as a strong proof of His Resurrection. It explains why the Apostles started preaching the Risen Christ only after receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
Scripture readings summarized: Proclamation and witness-bearing are the main themes of today’s readings. In the first reading, St. Peter shares his own experience of Christ’s Resurrection and its joy with the newly baptized members of Cornelius’ family. In the second reading, St. Paul, converted on the Damascus Road by Jesus from a persecuting Pharisee into a zealous apostle of Jesus, urges his converts to live the new life in the risen Christ, to which they were raised by their conversion, in order to share in the glory of Christ on His return. Today’s Gospel explains the empty-tomb-resurrection-experience of Mary Magdalene, Peter and John. Mary Magdalene proclaims her personal experience: “I have seen the Lord.” “The best proof of the Resurrection is a Church on fire.” Clarence Jordan, Christian Century 7/9/14 year of service to the Church in the U.S.
Resurrection of Jesus in St. Paul’s letters: The earliest Biblical exposition on the Resurrection of Christ is in 1 Cor 15 which runs thus: “The Messiah died for our sins, was buried and was raised according to the Scriptures.” (Here, Paul simply proclaims the Resurrection without the aid of any apparition story). Why did Paul write this? The Corinthians had a tendency to “collapse” Christian teachings back into pagan religion. In particular, they had a tendency to view the afterlife as a bodiless immortality of the soul. Paul is trying to teach them “eschatology” – the story of God’s plan to put the world right in Jesus (Eschatology = the branch of theology dealing with the ultimate destiny of mankind and the world). In the middle of this, Paul is trying to teach them the Christian view of our future – a bodily resurrection. Following the mention of Jesus’ Resurrection, the discourse continues with our own bodily resurrection. What is this new resurrection body? “The resurrection body possesses both continuity and discontinuity with the existing body.” 1 Cor 15:38 give us an example of this continuity/discontinuity: “The plant grows from the seed yet is a different sort of a thing.” The resurrection body should be thought of as a transformation of the existing body into a new mode of physicality (“transformed physicality”). At the same time 1 Cor 15:58 gives the impression that the present physical body matters. What you do in the present body is in continuity with who you are going to be in the future body. Paul further discusses the meaning of the transformation of the present body at the end of Philippians 3 and at the beginning of 2 Cor 5. In 2 Cor 5 he uses the metaphors of Seed and Corn; Tent and Temple. The present body is metaphorically thought to be a shadow of our future self. The eschatology of Paul we can summarize thus: “We live in this odd interval in God’s purpose in history, between the Resurrection of Jesus in the past, and our own future resurrection with God’s remaking of the whole world in the future, and these two together hold us in a newly-storied world, in a new imaginative world, in which we can live and work as Christians and in which we know that what we do in the present is not in vain, is not going to be thrown away. We are building, hopefully with gold and silver and precious stones, and when the day appears, then that work will appear with it.” That means Paul experienced, understood and proclaimed (wrote) the Resurrection of Christ even without the aid of Resurrection stories. Fr. Jijo Kurian, OFM (Cap) <https://www.facebook.com/jijo.kurian.58?fref=ufi).
Life messages: 1) We are to be a Resurrection people: Easter, the feast of the Resurrection, gives us the joyful message that we are a “Resurrection people.” This means that we are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits and dangerous addictions. It gives us the Good News that no tomb can hold us down anymore – not the tomb of despair, discouragement or doubt, nor that of death. Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the real presence of the Risen Lord in all the events of our lives. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 118:24).
2) We need to seek our peace and joy in the Risen Jesus: The living presence of the Risen Lord gives us lasting peace and celestial joy in the face of the boredom, suffering, pain and tensions of our day-to-day life. “Peace be with you!” was His salutation to His disciples at all post-Resurrection appearances. For the true Christian, every day must be an Easter Day, lived joyfully in the close company of the Risen Lord.
3) We are to be transparent Christians: We are called to be transparent Christians, showing others, through our lives of love, mercy, compassion and self-sacrificing service, that the Risen Jesus is living in our hearts.
4) We need to live new, disciplined lives in the Risen Jesus: Our awareness of the all-pervading, loving presence of the Risen Lord in and around us, and the strong conviction of our own coming resurrection, help us control our thoughts, desires, words and behavior. These salutary thoughts inspire us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure and free from evil habits and addictions. Our conviction that the Risen Lord is present in our neighbors and in all those we encounter should encourage us to respect them, and to render them loving, humble and selfless service.
5) We need to remember Easter in our Good Fridays: Easter reminds us that every Good Friday in our lives will have an Easter Sunday and that Jesus will let us share the power of His Resurrection. Each time we display our love of others, we share in the Resurrection. Each time we face a betrayal of trust, we share in the Resurrection of Jesus. Each time we fail in our attempts to ward off temptations – but keep on trying to overcome them – we share in the Resurrection. Each time we continue to hope – even when our hope seems unanswered – we share in the power of Jesus’ Resurrection. In short, the message of Easter is that nothing can destroy us – not pain, sin, rejection or death – because Christ has conquered all these, and we too can conquer them if we put our Faith in Him.
6) We are to be bearers of the Good News of Resurrection power. Resurrection is Good News, but at the same time, it’s sometimes painful because it involves death. Before the power of the Resurrection can take hold in our own lives, we’re called to die to sin, to die to self. We may even have to die to our own dreams, so that God can do what He wants to do with our lives. Resurrection is about seeing our world in a new way. Early that Easter morning, Mary Magdalene did not find what she was looking for, the dead body of Jesus. But she found something better than she could have imagined: The Risen Jesus. Sometimes, the things we think we want most are not granted to us. What we get instead is an experience of God’s new ways of working in the world. That’s the power of the Resurrection. When those moments come, we must spread the news–just as Mary Magdalene did: We have seen the Lord!
7) We need to be Easter people: We are in truth called to be an “Easter people”, because there are many Easter moments in our lives. It may be in prayer, when for a moment we really experience the love of God, especially having felt His absence, as we often do, like the disciples who experienced the emptiness of the tomb. It may be that moment when we are touched and given hope by a word of Scripture – like the disciples on the road to Emmaus when their hearts were uplifted in joy and hope as the Lord opened up the scriptures to them. Or it may be a moment during the sacrament of reconciliation, after we have acknowledged honestly our weakness and selfishness, our sinfulness and come to experience his forgiveness. Indeed, there are times in our lives when we know, through Faith, that the times of calm after the storm, of joy after sorrow, of restored vitality after weary days on our journey of Faith, are truly times when we share in his paschal mystery. (Fr. Varghese Kizhakevely).
JOKES OF THE WEEK
1) “TA-DA!”A Sunday school teacher had just finished telling her third graders about how Jesus was crucified and placed in a tomb with a great stone sealing the opening. Then, wanting to share the excitement of the resurrection, she asked: “And what do you think were Jesus’ first words when He came bursting out of that tomb alive?” A hand shot up into the air from the rear of the classroom. Attached to it was the arm of a little girl. Leaping out of her chair she shouted out excitedly “I know, I know!” “Good” said the teacher, “Tell us, what were Jesus first words?” And extending her arms high into the air she said: “TA-DA!”
2) Mother-in-law in Jerusalem: George went on a vacation to the Middle East with most of his family including his mother-in-law. During their vacation and while they were visiting Jerusalem, George’s mother-in-law died. With the death certificate in hand, George went to the American Consulate to make arrangements to send the body back to the States for proper burial. The Consul, after hearing of the death of the mother-in-law, told George that the sending of a body back to the States for burial is very, very expensive. It could cost as much as $5,000. The Consul continued, “In most cases the person responsible for the remains normally decides to bury the body here. This would only cost $150.” George thought for some time and answered, “I don’t care how much it will cost to send the body back; that’s what I want to do.” The Consul, after hearing this, said, “You must have loved your mother-in-law very much, considering the difference in price.” “No, it’s not that!” said George. “You see, I know of a case many years ago of a person, by name Jesus, who was buried here in Jerusalem. On the third day he arose from the dead. I just can’t take that chance.”
3) “See what happens.” One lady wrote in to a question-and-answer forum. “Dear Sirs, our preacher said on Easter, that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered.
Dear Bewildered, beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear through his side…put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens.” Sincerely, Charles.
3) Rented for a weekend: Joseph of Arimathea was a very wealthy Pharisee, a member of the council, and a secret follower of Jesus. It was Joseph who went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. And it was Joseph who supplied the tomb for Jesus’ burial. I wonder if someone pulled him aside and said, “Joseph that was such beautiful, costly, hand-hewn tomb. Why on earth did you give it to someone else to be buried in?” “Why not?” Joseph may have answered. “He only needed it for the weekend.”
4) Resurrection in election: Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was once asked if he believed in resurrection. “Of course, I do,” said Huckabee. “Dead people vote in every election we have in Arkansas. Resurrection is very real to us.”
Evidences for Jesus’ resurrection:Articles
25- Additional anecdotes:
1) “The Godfather of Fitness.” You may recall years ago when fitness legend Jack LaLanne celebrated his seventieth birthday by towing 70 boats containing 70 people for a mile across Long Beach Harbor. Amazing! But wait. He did it by holding the rope in his teeth. Why? Well, he was handcuffed and wearing leg shackles! Unbelievable! LaLanne was still going strong in his nineties. But friends, “The Godfather of Fitness” died on Jan 23, 2011 at ninety-six, proving that this world is not our final destination. It is but a prelude to a grander production. This world is a preparatory school. Without the Resurrection, it is simply impossible to explain a world in which people suffer and die. But the Resurrection is real. Christ rose from the dead. Christ is still alive and He is available in our world today
2) Bright light in the “black holes” of life: Have you ever heard of a “black hole”? If you have ever watched movies or TV programs about travelling in outer space, like the TV series Star Trek, you will know what a black hole is. Roughly speaking, it is a spot in the vastness of space which, astronomers believe, is like a giant vacuum or whirlpool sucking everything around it into the hole. Using Newton’s laws, scientists first theorized black holes in the 1790s but it wasn’t until 1994 that the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a massive supersized black hole – fortunately a long way from our own galaxy. There is also a black hole in our galaxy, the Milky Way. What if scientists said that it was not beyond the realms of possibility that one day our sun and everything around it would be sucked into this “black hole,” and everything would be gone? “Black holes” are symbols of hopelessness, and the message of Easter tells us that there is something beyond those “black holes”. Maybe this “black hole” includes grief for a loved one, anxiety over a work situation or what is happening in our family. Maybe it is a “black hole” of depression and stress, and we feel there is nothing we can do to change what is happening. Maybe it’s the “black hole” of sickness and pain. Maybe it’s the “black hole” of guilt and failure. Whether those “black holes” are right here and now or show up at some time in the future, Easter tells us there is hope, there is a living Saviour and Friend who will help us when we feel as if we have been sucked into the deepest darkness. Easter tells us that there is nothing to fear. We have a risen Saviour who promises never to leave us, to love us always, always to brighten our darkest paths, and to guide us from death to eternal life in Heaven. Even when we are in the middle of something deep and dark, our risen Saviour will always be there with us. “I am the Living One! I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I have authority over death and the world of the dead” (Revelation 1:8). http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/universe/black-holes-article/
# 3: Empty Tomb: Easter celebrations lead us to an empty tomb! The coffin of President Abraham Lincoln has been opened twice since his death. The first time it was opened in 1887, twenty years after his death. Why was it opened? Because of the rumour that the coffin did not contain Lincoln’s body. It was opened and the body in it was proven to be Lincoln’s. Fourteen years later, the same rumors circulated again. Again, the coffin was opened, and again, the body was proved to be Abraham Lincoln’s. Similar rumors circulated about the body of Jesus after his death. The only difference was that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb. Today’s Gospel does not present us with the risen Christ. Instead it presents us with the empty tomb! The angel asks: “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” Unfortunately, we humans are still looking for the living among the dead. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
4) “We believe you.” There is a beautiful story told recently about a woman named Rosemary who works in the Alzheimer’s Unit of a nursing home. Rosemary and a colleague named Arlene brought the residents of the home together one Good Friday afternoon to view Franco Zeffirelli’s acclaimed production, Jesus of Nazareth. They wondered whether these elderly Alzheimer’s patients would even know what was going on, but they thought it might be worth the effort. When they finally succeeded in getting everyone into position, they started the video. Rosemary was pleasantly surprised at the quiet attention being paid to the screen. At last came the scene where Mary Magdalene comes upon the empty tomb and sees Jesus’ body not there. An unknown man, in reality the risen Christ, asks Mary why she is looking for the living among the dead. Mary runs as fast as she can back to the disciples and tells Peter and the rest with breathless excitement, “He’s alive! I saw Him, I tell you! He’s alive.” The doubt in their eyes causes Mary to pull back. “You don’t believe me . . . You don’t believe me!” From somewhere in the crowd of Alzheimer’s patients came the clear, resolute voice of Esther, one of the patients. “WE BELIEVE YOU,” she said, “WE BELIEVE YOU!” [Rosemary Kadrmas in Jeff Cavins, et.al, Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart (West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, LLC, 2003), pp. 211-212.]
5) The killers asked her if there was anyone [in the classroom] who had faith in Christ. A day after the terrible tragedy at Columbine High, CNN journalist Larry King did a live interview with a teenage girl named Mickie Cain, a student who had witnessed the massacre. Mickie was having a difficult time maintaining her composure and was able to blurt out only a few words before lapsing into uncontrollable sobs. Larry King was patient and gave her plenty of time to regain her composure. Mickie recounted the chilling story: “Let me tell you about my friend Cassie,” she said. “[Cassie] was amazing . . . She completely stood up for God when the killers asked her if there was anyone [in the classroom] who had faith in Christ. She spoke up [and said she did] and they shot her for it.” [Franklin Graham, The Name (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2002), pp. 14-15]. Such a testimony as Cassie made that day makes our witness look pretty pathetic, doesn’t it? The critical question is, would you make such a sacrifice for something that you knew was patently untrue? Of course not. And neither would those early disciples of Christ. They had met Christ, Risen from the grave, and they would not testify otherwise, even while being tortured. The witnesses are so credible, the change in their lives so dramatic, that their testimony cannot be disregarded.
6) Cape of Good Hope: You may remember a geography lesson from elementary school in which you learned that the southernmost point of Africa is a point which for centuries has experienced tremendous storms. For many years no one knew what lay beyond that cape, for no ship attempting to round that point had ever returned to tell the tale. Among the ancients it was known as the “Cape of Storms,” and for good reason. But in 1497 a Portuguese explorer, Vasco Da Gama, successfully sailed East around that very point and found beyond the wild raging storms, a great calm sea, and beyond that, the shores of India. The name of that cape was changed from the Cape of Storms to the Cape of Good Hope. Until Jesus Christ rose from the dead, death had been the “cape of storms” on which all hopes of life beyond had been wrecked. No one knew what lay beyond that point until, on Easter morning, Jesus arose. The ancient visions of Isaiah became the victory of Jesus over our last great enemy. Like those sixteenth century explorers, we can see beyond human death to the hope of Heaven and eternal life with the Father. More than that, we dare to believe that we shall experience in our own human lives exactly what the Son of God experienced in His, for the Risen Christ says to us, “Because I live, you shall live also.” This is the heart of our Faith.
7) “I choose death….by old age.” Long ago, there was an exceedingly clever court jester at the court of the Caliph of Baghdad. For years he’d never failed to amuse the court whenever they called him. But one day, in a split second of carelessness, he offended the caliph who ordered him put to death. “However,” said the caliph, “in consideration of your many years of fine and faithful service, I’ll let you choose how you wish to die.” “Oh, mighty Caliph,” replied the jester. “I thank you for your great kindness. I choose death….by old age.” Wouldn’t we all! But that just delays the big question: Then what? What comes after you finally die at the age of 110 on the tennis court? Only Jesus has the answer. He says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, even though he die, will live with Me forever.” (Msgr. D. Clarke)
8) He always whistled: Have you heard the story of the man whose hobby was growing roses? When he worked in his rose garden, he always whistled. It seemed to everyone that he was whistling much louder than was needed for his own enjoyment. One day a neighbor asked him why it was that he always whistled so loudly. The man then took the neighbor into his home to meet his wife. The woman was not only an invalid but was completely blind as well. The man, you see, was whistling, not for his benefit, but rather for the benefit of his wife. He wanted his blind wife to know that he was nearby, and that she was not alone. That story is a wonderful illustration of the significance of Easter Day. The affirmation, “Christ is risen!” reminds us that God is near, and the experiencing of His presence strengthens us in our weakness. (Donald William Dotterer, Living the Easter Faith,).
9) And so the Iron Lady wept. In 1984, when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of Britain, a terrorist’s bomb exploded in the conference room where many of the government meetings were held. Margaret Thatcher survived this blast, but some of her cabinet members were killed. The following Sunday, Margaret Thatcher went to Church as she always did. But that particular Sunday seemed different. As Margaret Thatcher sang the hymns, listened to the message, saw the candles upon the altar and the sunshine streaming through the stained-glass windows, she began to weep. She wept because everything around her had been changed by the loss of her friends. The familiar had now become strange. The goodness and beauty of the world around her seemed almost too much to bear. She knew she would not only miss her friends, but also the wonderful times they had had together. And so the Iron Lady wept. If we can relate to Maggie Thatcher’s grief, maybe we can relate to the grief of Jesus’ disciples and friends on that first Easter morning.
10) “I want to see your Resurrection!” Father Basil Pennington, a Catholic monk, tells of an encounter he once had with a teacher of Zen. Pennington was at a retreat. As part of the retreat, each person met privately with this Zen teacher. Pennington says that at his meeting the Zen teacher sat there before him smiling from ear to ear and rocking gleefully back and forth. Finally, the teacher said: “I like Christianity. But I would not like Christianity without the Resurrection. I want to see your Resurrection!” Pennington notes that, “With his directness, the teacher was saying what everyone else implicitly says to Christians: ‘You are a Christian. You are risen with Christ. Show me (what this means for you in your life) and I will believe.’ (http://www.stjohnslaverne.org/SermonReadingArchive/OmernickEasterSundaySermon20 06.rtf.) Marilyn Omernick.] That is how people know if the Resurrection is true or not. Does it affect how we live?
11) “Do you mean like Elvis?” A father was explaining to his five-year-old son how Jesus died and then, on the third day, rose from the dead. “That’s what we believe,” the father said. “That’s how we know Jesus is the Son of God, because He came back from the dead just as He said He would.” “Do you mean like Elvis?” the boy replied. Well, no. Not exactly like Elvis. This is a new world. People nowadays believe just about everything, except that which is most true. We have to work a little bit harder in this new world to help people
12) From the empty tomb: It was a hot summer afternoon. The famous Hollywood film director Cecil B. DeMille was drifting in a canoe on a lake in Maine, reading a book. He looked away from the book momentarily, down to the lake. There a bunch of water beetles were at play. Suddenly one of the beetles began to crawl up the side of the canoe. When it got halfway up, it attached the talons of its legs to the wooden side of the canoe and died. DeMille watched for a minute; then he turned back to his book. About three hours later, DeMille looked down at the dead beetle again. What he saw amazed him. The beetle had dried up, and its back was starting to crack open. As he watched, something began to emerge from the opening: first a moist head, then wings. It was a beautiful dragonfly. DeMille sat there in awe. Then the dragonfly began to move its wings. It hovered gracefully over the water where the other beetles were at play. But they didn’t recognize the dragonfly. They didn’t realize that it was the same beetle they had played with three hours earlier. DeMille took his finger and nudged the dried-out shell of the beetle. It was like an empty tomb (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies)
13) Easter: surprising or amazing? There is an old story about Noah Webster, who wrote the famous dictionary that bears his name. As you can imagine, he was a stickler for the precise use of language. He was also something of a womanizer. One day he was in the pantry kissing the maid when Mrs. Webster walked in on them. Mrs. Webster said, “Why, Noah, I’m surprised.” Noah said, “No, my dear. We’re surprised. You’re amazed.” (Mark Trotter, “Do You Amaze Anybody?”, May 22, 1988). I think the story is apocryphal. I’m sure Mr. Webster was a stickler for the right word, but when you look in his own Webster’s Dictionary, he says surprise is a synonym for amaze. Amaze is the stronger word. Easter is both surprising and amazing. Here is God’s ultimate act of love and power. It is an act of love that has gone to its limit in Jesus’ gift of Himself on the cross. It is an act of power that bursts the tomb and announces to the world that Love is stronger than hate, Good prevails over evil, and Life is triumphant over death.
14)“Suppose he isn’t in there!” Two famous Broadway producers were pallbearers at the funeral of the great escape artist, Harry Houdini. As they lifted the beautiful and heavy casket to their shoulders, one of them turned and whispered to the other, “Suppose he isn’t in there!” He was, of course. Only one man in human history has conquered the grave, and it is He Whom we call Lord. “Christ has been raised from the dead,” writes St. Paul, “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Corinthians 15:20). What deliriously good news that is! No wonder our Church is full on Easter Sunday! That is news that turns the world upside down. Jesus Christ is risen!
15) Resurrection Bay: In the movie The Hunt for Red October, the opening scene was filmed in Resurrection Bay, Alaska. This dramatic setting received its name in 1792 when the Russian trader and explorer Alexandr Baranov was forced to find refuge there during a vicious storm on Easter Sunday. Resurrection Bay has the distinction of remaining ice-free even in the dead of winter. Even in squalls and storms, it provides safe harbor. As Christians, we anchor our souls in Resurrection Bay. The world may be caught in a thousand tempests, and storms may arise from all directions. But the empty tomb assures us of tranquility and a passageway to Heaven that will never ice over. Jesus died and rose again to give us peace with God and the peace of God — life both eternal and abundant. We anchor our souls in the haven of rest. (Turning Point)
16) Many infallible proofs: Albert L. Roper was a prominent Virginia attorney, a graduate of the University of Virginia and its law school, who eventually became mayor of the city of Norfolk. He once began a thorough legal investigation into the evidence for the Resurrection of Christ, asking himself the question: “Can any intelligent person accept the Resurrection story?” After examining the evidence at length, he came away asking a different question: “Can any intelligent person deny the weight of this evidence?” Even those who traveled for three years with Jesus experienced disbelief over His Resurrection, but Jesus showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs. We don’t base our Faith on legends, myths, or fairy tales. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is well-documented, and many critics have been silenced (and even converted) when they’ve carefully investigated the evidence [Albert L. Roper, Did Jesus Rise From the Dead (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965), foreword.] We have a Risen Savior! He offers Himself to us today with many infallible proofs. (Turning Point- 3/29/13)
17) Joke Saturday: According to an ancient Russian Orthodox tradition, the day before Easter was devoted to telling jokes. Priests would join the people in telling their best jokes to one another (presumably “clean” jokes!!) The reason was to reflect the joke God pulled on the devil in the Resurrection. Satan thought he won on Friday, but God had the last laugh on Easter Sunday.
18) He is no longer in the grave: In 1887, twenty-two years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, his coffin was dug up and opened because there were constant rumors that his body was not in the grave. So they dug it up and the body was there. The rumors continued so 14 years later they had to dig it up again. Both times witnesses were present who testified that Lincoln was still in the grave. Three days after the death of Jesus Christ, similar rumors began to spread throughout the land of Israel. Only this time there were no witnesses who could say that they had seen His body. In fact, to the contrary, many witnesses claimed to have seen him out of His grave and even talked with Him after the Resurrection. As great a man as Lincoln was, there were witnesses to prove he was still in the grave. If one of our Presidents or another leader in our government were to cry out today to Lincoln for help, there would be no response. If a scientist were to cry out to Einstein for help today there would only be empty silence. If someone were to call out to Mohammed or Buddha or Gandhi today there would be no help. But if you and I call out to Jesus Christ there is instant power available to us… power to change lives …why? Because He lives! (Rev. David Henderson).
19) The parable of the butterfly: As a butterfly soared overhead, one caterpillar said to the other, “You’ll never get me up in one of those things!” Yet for every caterpillar the time comes when the urge to eat and grow subsides and he instinctively begins to form a chrysalis around himself. The chrysalis hardens and you’d think for all the world that the caterpillar was dead. But one spring morning the life inside the chrysalis will begin to writhe, the top will crack open, and a beautifully-formed butterfly will emerge. For hours it will stand stretching and drying its wings, moving them slowly up and down, up and down. And then, before you know it, the butterfly will glide aloft, effortlessly riding the currents of the air, alighting on flower after gorgeous flower, as if to show off its vivid colors to the bright blossoms. Somehow, the miracle of the butterfly never loses its fascination for us. Perhaps that is because the butterfly is a living parable of the promise of Resurrection. On Easter morning, the disciples saw Jesus’ grave-clothes lying on the cold slab — empty, but still lying in the wrapped folds that had gone round and round the corpse. Only the corpse was gone, leaving the grave-clothes much like an empty chrysalis deserted by a butterfly, which has left to soar free. “He is risen as He said,” an angel told the incredulous disciples.
20) “Which one would you ask which way to go?'” Dr. Seamands tells of a Muslim who became a Christian in Africa. “Some of his friends asked him, ‘Why have you become a Christian?’ He answered, ‘Well, it’s like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn’t know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive–which one would you ask which way to go?'”
21) A real Easter egg: A small chick begins the long journey to birth. The not-yet-a-bird weighs little more than air; its beak and claws are barely pin pricks. The bird-to-be is in its own little world: protected by the rigid shell, warmed by the mother hen’s body, nourished by the nutrients within the egg’s membrane. But then the chick begins the work of life. Over several days the chick keeps picking and picking until it can break out from its narrow world — and into an incomparably wider one. But for this to happen, the egg has to go to pieces. New life demands shattering the old. That is the real Easter egg. Not a complete egg dyed and painted with so many designs and colors. Not an egg that has been hardboiled, impossible to shatter. Not an egg made of chocolate. The real Easter egg is shattered and destroyed. The real Easter egg exists in broken pieces. The real Easter egg is cracked and opened, revealing the new life that has emerged. For centuries, the world has marked the Resurrection of the Lord with eggs. But the Easter meaning of the egg is found in the struggle of the chick to free itself from its confines so as to begin life in a much bigger world beyond it. We struggle to break out of a world that we perceive is going to pieces; we pick away at an existence that leaves us dissatisfied and unfulfilled. The promise of the Easter Christ is that we can break out of our self-contained little worlds and begin to live in a world where peace and justice reign, a world illuminated by hope and warmed by love, a world that extends beyond time and place into the forever of God’s dwelling place. [From a meditation by Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B.].
22) “Is there hope?” On December 17, 1927, a Navy Submarine, USS S-4, off Provincetown, MA, was accidentally rammed by a US Coast Guard cutter as the sub was surfacing, following a “series submerged runs over a measured mile course to facilitate calibration of her of speed- and distance measuring equipments.” The cutter had tried unsuccessfully to avoid the collision but tore two holes in the side of the sub, “one four feet long and two feet high in the ruptured ballast tank and the other 2-and-a-half feet long by a foot high in the battery compartment pressure hull.” The sub sank, bow first and settled on her keel in 102 feet on mud. There were heavy seas, gale winds and freezing temperatures. Portsmouth Navy yard called in naval and civilian personnel to begin salvage on the sub. They readied the USS Bushnell, a tender, which arrive the next morning, joining other rescue ships, some of them local fishing boats. Captain Ernest J. King took command. (Robert Loys Sminkey, Commander USN Retired) http://www.subvetpaul.com/USS-S-4.htm. With him was Signalman Joe Dawson who had just completed a temporary assignment on the S-4 (and was replaced there by his best friend, Walter Tolson). Dawson had come from the USS Camden where he had been preparing for his Christmas leave.
In 1997, at 90, as the last survivor of the USS-S-4, Dawson related the story of the rescue attempt:The first diver to go down, Commander Ellsberg, returned, reporting the hole and “no sign of life.” The next morning “divers Edie and Carr heard tappings in the forward torpedo room. They found out there were six men living. Their message to Edi and Carr was, ‘Is there hope? Please hurry, please!’” “The divers were then ordered to connect oxygen hoses to the S-4. Three or four time the sea tore the hoses from the S-4, endangering the lives of the divers. They decided to wait until the weather subsided. The men could only live 72 hours without the oxygen we were trying to get to them. The last message sent by the submariners was hard to decipher. It said, ‘We understand’… and that was the last we heard from them.” (ibid., Dawson letter).
This is the picture of our dilemma as we worship on this glad Easter Day. Humankind is trapped in a dreadful situation. All around we are running low on hope, and we look for a word from beyond offering it to us. This world in which we live is plagued with war and famine, mounting debt and continual destruction. The more we try to rescue ourselves the more we seem to fall behind. We wonder. (Rev. Bill Self). With the Apostles, we are locked securely in our upper room, trembling in fear of the forces of evil – secularism, materialism, atheism, selfishness — which assail us and our world. With the submariners we ask, “Is there hope? Please hurry, please. “And we are answered. Here He stands, in our midst though the room is still locked. He says, “Peace be with you!” showing us His wounded hands and side, and letting us rejoice that it is truly He, Alive! Then He says to us again, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” Then we understand that He is our hope, now and forever. Alleluia! HE IS RISEN!
23) Unfinished Till Broken: A story is told of an Eastern village that, through the centuries, was known for its exquisite pottery. Especially striking were its urns; high as tables, wide as chairs, they were admired around the globe for their strong form and delicate beauty. Legend has it that when each urn was apparently finished, there was one final step. The artist broke it – and then put it back together with gold filigree. An ordinary urn was then transformed into a priceless work of art. What seemed finished wasn’t, until it was broken. In the same way, Jesus allowed his body to be broken for us and thus attained the glory of his Resurrections. (Steve Goodier; quoted by(Fr. Botelho).
24) Lord of Life: Dr. Jayant Patel, an Indo-American was dubbed ‘doctor of death’ because he faced charges of manslaughter in over 800 cases in the USA and Australia. Dr. Patel allegedly lied about his medical qualifications and performed operations causing innumerable deaths. Similarly, Dr. Amit Kumar performed illegal kidney operations on about 500 poor unsuspecting victims and sold their kidneys to rich recipients from the West. History abounds with such ‘doctors of death’ besides leaders like Hitler and the so-called ‘butcher of the Balkans’ Slobodan Milosevic. Besides these killers, we too consciously or unconsciously – promote death rather than life. Conversely, Easter exhorts everyone to celebrate the Lord of Life and defy death. (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
25) Do Not Be Amazed: The Fourth Wise Man is a movie made for television and based on Henry Van Dyke’s 1895 classic. It begins like a Christmas story but ends as an Easter story. Martin Sheen stars as the fourth wise man, Artaban, who was late for the journey the three wise men made to Bethlehem because he stopped along the way to help someone in trouble. For the next 33 years, he tried to find the promised Messiah, only to miss him at every turn because he was constantly getting sidetracked to help people. In his last efforts to find Jesus, Artaban arrived late one more time at the crucifixion. Jesus has just died on the cross. At that moment the earthquake occurs and Artaban is struck by a falling tile. As he lies there dying, he is broken-hearted because his quest to find the Messiah was never realized. Suddenly, the Risen Lord appears to him. Jesus tells him that for the past 33 years he had, in fact, been found by the fourth wise man in the person of all the people this wise man had helped. Whatever Artaban had done to the least of the Lord’s people, that he had done to Jesus himself. This Easter story is retold in another form in today’s Gospel. Instead of three wise men seeking the Lord, with the fourth wise man coming along late, we have three women coming to the tomb, seeking the Lord who has been crucified. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). L/19
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No.24) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website: http://frtonyshomilies.com/for missed homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily.
Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.
by Mark Hart
Many people will tell you that “based on human logic” the Resurrection makes no sense. The first thing we need to remember is that “human logic” is not omnipotence. God makes it very clear that “(His) ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
What is illogical is to think that “man” is the center of the universe. The truth is that Christianity is far more logical than many people give it credit for, certainly more logical than atheism or agnosticism.
The second thing we should remind people of is that any conversation about God is going to necessitate a degree of Faith. If people are not willing to humbly admit that they don’t have all the answers, then the conversation will go nowhere. God’s Truth and human pride do not co-exist in the same space; that is the nature of sin. Humility and grace go hand-in-hand, as do pride and sin. So, let’s remember that any conversation about the existence of God or the truth about Christ’s resurrection necessitates a humble admission that “it is possible that God exists” and that “we are not God.”
When it comes to Easter Sunday, however, and the glorious truth about the Resurrection, to say that there is no logical truth to this belief, is not only ignorant, it is absurd. Here are 15 very quick facts that point to the truth of the Resurrection. These are not exhaustive or highly detailed; they are quick points that further strengthen what humble-hearted believers take on Faith:
1. There was an empty Tomb
The founders of other “faiths” are buried in tombs or had their ashes sprinkled over foreign lands. Not Jesus. Modern scholars and directors can claim what they want on their cable specials . . . the truth is that the tomb was empty.
2. The Tomb had a Roman seal
Clay was affixed to a rope (stretched across a rock) and to the tomb, itself. The Roman seal was pressed into the clay. Break the seal, you break the law; break the law – you die.
3. The Tomb had a Roman guard stationed there
The “guard” was at least four men, possibly more, of highly trained soldiers. These soldiers were experts in torture and in combat, not easily frightened off by a band of fishermen and tax collectors. Had they fallen asleep or left their post they would have violated the law, resulting in their own execution.
4. The Tomb had a stone in front of it
Most scholars put the weight of the stone at about 2 tons (4000 pounds), probably at least seven or eight feet high. This was definitely a “team lift” or “team roll,” not movable by just one or two men.
5. There were post-resurrection appearances, to hundreds
Over a span of six weeks, He appeared to a variety of groups of various sizes in different locations. He appeared to over 500 at one point – a huge number to be an outright fabrication. Not to mention, the people whom He appeared to didn’t just see Him, but ate with Him, walked with Him, touched Him. Jesus even made breakfast (John 21:9) at one point.
6. The martyrdom of witnesses offers proof
Would people leave their businesses, careers, homes and families, go to the ends of the earth, die horribly gruesome and painful deaths and forsake their previous religious beliefs about salvation all to protect a lie? Not one of them, while being beheaded, fed to lions, boiled in oil, crucified upside down or burned alive changed their story. Instead, they sang hymns of trust and praise, knowing that the Lord who defeated death would raise them up, too.
7. There is still a Church
If the Resurrection were a lie it would have died off centuries ago. The Christian Church is the largest institution of any kind in the history of humanity. This Church began with the apostles following Pentecost, the year Christ rose. It has conquered empires, withstood attacks (inside and out) and grown in spite of the sinfulness of its members, because it was founded by Christ, Himself, and is guided and protected by the Holy Spirit. The Church, like Christ, is both human and divine.
8. Jesus prophesied that it was going to happen
Jesus told people that it was going to happen. It didn’t take Him by surprise. And He didn’t just say “I’m going to be killed” (which others might have seen coming) but also that “I’m going to rise on the third day.” Those details aren’t ironic, coincidental or fortune-telling — they’re called prophecy and true prophecy comes from God, Himself.
9. It was prophesied in the Old Testament
It was foretold centuries before Christ Himself was born or lived it out. Hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah, what He would say, do, live like and how He would die… were offered centuries apart by people God selected (most of whom never met one another, by the way). Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Hosea, and Micah (just to name a few) all pointed to Christ’s death and Resurrection hundreds of years before these occurred.
10. The day of worship changed
Following the Resurrection, tens of thousands of Jews (almost overnight) abandoned the centuries old tradition of celebrating the Sabbath on the last day of the week and began worshipping on the first day of the week the day on which the Lord, the Christ, beat death sealing the new and final covenant with God.
11. The practices of sacrifice changed
Jews were always taught (and taught their children… Deuteronomy 6) that they needed to offer an animal sacrifice once a year, to atone for their sins. After the Resurrection, the Jewish converts of the time, throngs of them, stopped offering animal sacrifices to God.
12. It is unique among other world religions
No other religious leader of any consequence ever actually claimed to be God, except Jesus. No other religious leader ever did the things Christ did. No other religious leader ever backed up his “religious voice” with Resurrection. Confucius died. Lao-tse died. Buddha died. Mohammed died. Joseph Smith died. Christ rose from the dead.
13. The message is self-authenticating
This proof goes back to the original point, namely, that a humble heart is enlightened and illuminated by far more than logic or reason. A true believer doesn’t need all the facts to believe in the Resurrection, because the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us, intimately and powerfully. St. Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 4. Blind and hardened hearts will never see God, not until they acknowledge that they are not God.
14. The miraculous ending fits a miraculous life
You want logic? Christ healed the blind, the deaf and the dumb. He fed the masses, cured the lepers, and forgave the sinners. He made the lame walk and brought others back to life. He multiplied food, walked on water, calmed storms, and exorcised demons with His mere voice. The miracle of Good Friday is that He didn’t call on a miracle. He died. The miracle of Easter Sunday is that He rose from the dead – a miraculous “end” to a miraculous life. What else should we expect?
15. (and the only answer we really need) . . . Jesus is still the answer
The world cannot offer any cure for suffering. The world can ignore it, berate it, debate it, bomb it, and medicate it . . . but there is no cure or point to suffering separated from Jesus Christ. In Christ, our suffering has a point and it has worth. Apart from Christ, suffering is pointless and fruitless. There is no fountain of youth. There is no miracle drug. There is no cure for death except Jesus Christ. What is illogical is to think that the God of life would not want us to live eternally.
The only reason to think the Resurrection is illogical is if you believe this life is your only one. This blog is not intended to begin debates or tear people apart. This is a very quick reminder to all of us Christians who might get too “logical” from time to time (myself included), that the Resurrection is not illogical. That being said, all of us who do tend to be too logical might want to take a deep breath in contemplative prayer this weekend and really lean back in to the beautiful truth and reality of the crucifixion and Resurrection.
” How can some among you say there is no Resurrection? If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your Faith; if Christ has not been raised than your Faith is in vain; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-18)
Brothers and Sisters, because of what happened in that Upper Room, on that cross, and in that tomb 2000 years ago, we know God the Father intimately, we walk with Christ daily, and we are guided by the Holy Spirit eternally. That’s the truth, and what a beautiful truth it is. (John 8:32)
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 24) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website: http://frtonyshomilies.com/for missed homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily.
Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.