3rd Sunday, Easter - homily
Ultimately, good wins over evil…Last week was a very hard week for all of us Americans, but especially all those in the Virginia Tech family. We might feel helpless watching the news reports, wondering, ‘is there anything at all that I can do?’ There are three things, at least, that we can do. One, pray. We can pray for the victims, their families, the students, faculty, and alumni of Virginia Tech. We can also pray for the gunman. Second, forgive. We can have a real culture and spirit of forgiveness that leads to healing. We have seen already that the great men and women of Virginia Tech are moving toward forgiveness. Third, we ourselves can choose good and avoid evil. We want to be on the side of good, and live in a culture of goodness and virtue. Ultimately, good wins over evil.
Evil is all around us. I don’t say to scare anyone; I am just saying what is true. One look at a newspaper on any given day shows that. On Monday, evil reared its ugly face in a major way. So many of the news analysts and pundits are exploring the mind of Seung-Hui Cho, trying to figure out how this happened. With our spirituality and theology, we know what was at work there. It was the work of the Devil. We see so much evidence that points to demonic activity. First and most obviously, Cho took 32 innocent lives, and then his own. Second, we see so much chaos in his words and thoughts. God is all about order; the Devil is all about chaos. Third, Cho was very self-centered and narcissistic in his approach to life. He focused so much on “me, me, me”; that’s the way the Devil wants us to live. Finally, he even used the name Jesus Christ in a heretical and blasphemous way. It was the work of the Devil through Cho.
Ultimately, good wins over evil. Since evil did its heinous and horrible acts on Monday, we have seen good begin to take over in Blacksburg. So many on the campus have turned toward prayer in a major way, and are already talking about forgiveness. And, prayers have come from all over the world to Blacksburg. We are learning, too, of the tremendous acts of heroism that have occurred. Just like 9/11, good will win over evil at Virginia Tech.
Jesus talks about death in today’s Gospel. As we recently celebrated, Christ himself endured an awful death on Good Friday. He tells Peter that he, too, will suffer a terrible death; St. Peter was also crucified…upside down. He says to Peter that his death will glorify God because it will be for others, and it will show the greatest love there is: to lay down your life for your friends. He says, “Follow me…to the Cross”.
On Monday, he said it to Liviu Lebrescu, the professor who barricaded himself against the door of the classroom so that many of his students could escape to safety. “Follow me, Liviu, to the Cross. Your death will glorify God because it will be an example of heroic love…laying down your life for your friends”. Christ was with all of the victims on Monday. He was. He was there, saying, “Follow me, and I will show you eternal life”.
Jesus commands Peter to “feed my lambs”. Priests continue to feed God’s lambs with Himself, the Lamb of God. Especially now, we need Jesus in the Eucharist. We need to have him with us… within us. We need him to save us from sin. We need him to protect us from the evil one. We need him to keep us safe. Maybe most important of all, we need to know he is with us. When we leave here to go into a dangerous world, we know that he is with us, and that, ultimately, we will be okay.
Obviously, the grace of the Eucharist helps us to pray, to forgive, and to choose good over evil. As we receive the Eucharist today may each one of us know, and may all of those in the Virginia Tech family know, that God is with us. ‘If God is with us, who can be against us?’ With God with us, we live in faith, not fear. May each of know that God is with us, and that, ultimately, everything will be okay.