Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday - homily

In the early Church, people would greet one another in the following way to celebrate Easter. One person would to say, “Christ is risen!” And, then, the other would say, “He is risen indeed!!” So, let’s try it here. We have a full Church, so this should rock! I will say ‘Christ is risen’, and you say, ‘He is risen indeed’. “Christ is risen…HE IS RISEN INDEED!” Wow, that was good. On behalf of Fr. Mike and the entire staff here at St. Andrew’s, I wish you and your families a very blessed and joyous Easter.

For God, all things are possible. We hear that so often…today, among all days, it is played out. Years ago, when I was out of the seminary, I was working in sales. One of my co-workers and I started talking about faith just before Lent one year. He was raised Catholic but didn’t go to Church much. He’s a nice guy, and a lot of fun. But, he was really struggling with life, and admitted to living with a lot of fear. He began to ask a bunch of questions about our Catholic faith; I was very interested to try to answer his questions. We kept talking more and more, and then HE made a deal with me. He said that if I write one Scripture quote on his bulletin board every day during Lent, then he would go to Confession at Easter (it had been 25 years since he’d been). I said sure!

So, I wrote a Scripture quote every day on his board that was pertinent to his life – even did it on Saturdays and Sundays, just to be sure! Then, at Easter time, he went to Confession. He told me it was for an hour and a half! And, at the end, when the priest laid his hands on him to give him absolution and the blessing, my buddy felt chills go up and down his spine. I told him that was the Holy Spirit.

He had struggled so much after losing his Dad a few years before that, battled problems with alcohol, and had no prospects for getting married. He called me a few weeks ago to tell me that he’s getting married. To hear the peace and happiness in his voice is remarkable. He living in faith now, not fear. He has found his way out of the darkness and found life. He has had a Resurrection experience.

With God all things are possible. We have spent the past few days recalling the events of Christ’s suffering, passion, and death. He really suffered. That was really his body and blood on the Cross. The man was dead. What must have the Apostles and disciples been thinking during those two days- ‘he’s gone…he died like everyone else before him. Was he not the Son of God? Was he a liar and a blasphemer?’ Then, we hear the joy they experienced on the third day. He is no longer dead. He is alive! The same flesh and blood that was dead on the Cross is now alive. Christ has won victory over death! With God all things are possible.

Each one of us is going through, in some way, what Christ went through in his Calvary. Each one here today – young, old, whomever – is carrying a Cross and walking through Calvary. Maybe because of the death of someone close to you recently, family problems, problems with alcohol or drugs, peer pressure, anger, hatred, loneliness, rejection, unforgiveness…because of your sins or the sins of others, whatever - you are carrying your Cross. The Resurrection shows us that we can get through Calvary, we can get through our suffering and go to the other side. We have the hope that God will win victory over our Cross. With Him all things are possible.
Every Sunday, not just today, is a feast of the Resurrection. How awesome would it be if our Church were this full every Sunday! We not only hear about the event of the Resurrection and think about Christ’s rising, but we see the risen body of Christ…in the Eucharist. It is the same risen Christ who appeared to the Apostles and disciples who appears to us in a few minutes. I said on Good Friday that at every Mass we are witnesses to the Crucifixion, and that’s true – Christ’s sacrifice is re-presented on the altar. But, what has happened since the Crucifixion? The Resurrection. So, the Eucharist is the RISEN Body of Christ that we see and receive in Holy Communion. We come here to receive the risen Lord, and then to go forth from here as witnesses of the Resurrection.

There is a tee-shirt out there about a basketball player, Lebron James. I love basketball, and Lebron, you’re cool. But, the shirt says “WITNESS” on the front, as if we are witnesses to him like he’s the next Messiah or something. When we leave Mass, it’s like we are wearing shirts that say “WITNESS” on the front, and “TO THE RESURRECTION” on the back. We have seen the Risen Christ, and have received him in the Eucharist, and then we go forth to witness to him and to his love.

As you receive the risen Body of Christ today, may you know his peace, joy and love. May you experience the joy of the Resurrection after having gone through Calvary. May you know God’s love this day and all during the Easter season.


At 1:35 PM, Blogger fran said...

Inspiring...powerful...uplifting...awesome, to experience Fr. Greg's love of the Eucharist!

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

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At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

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At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the distinction between assumption and ascention? Also, where are we told that Mary was assumed into heaven? I've always wondered why we don't hear more about Mary's life after Jesus' death.

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous short hair said...

That is something I have always wondered too.

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'e wondered-
I've been in other places/churches for Easter Mass. It struck me strange that in another Cathlic church, no one kneeled during Easter Mass. Instead, when I expected all to kneel, people stood- even afer communion. Why was is different? I also remember something different beig done to the Jesus on the cross, but I can't remember what is was. Does anyone know?

At 9:13 PM, Anonymous short hairl said...

Why is it that its only in the Catholic churches that people kneel?

At 9:17 PM, Anonymous short hair said...

"when I expected all to kneel, people stood- even afer communion. Why was is different? I also remember something different"

I am probably wrong but I'll try to answer the question. Could it be that today is Easter- the day Jesus resurrected?

At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

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At 7:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At a point in my life when I really struggled, I had a friend like you. I needed a lifeline, and this friend threw me one. The lifeline you offered your friend (and countless others) is your unshakeable faith and willingness, often eagerness, to share it.

I struggled for years with alcoholism. It is a horrible disease that absorbs your self-worth. It lulls you slowly into believing that you function "better" after a few drinks, but then those few drinks become a few more...and a few more...and a few more. Eventually, I couldn't function at all. After nearly killing myself and having no understanding of how to make it stop, this friend shared with me that he understood where I was. He was a member of AA and was offering me help. I was desperate to get better but terrified at the prospect of what that meant. My friend talked about facing one's fears. He'd say that if we don't face them, they follow-us and catch us in those moments of weakness. My fears caught me in the bottle, and if I didn't face them, they'd win. My friend, an ameteur body-builder who spent a lot of time primping, had a childlike sense of humor, a lopsided smile and, occaisionally, some inappropraite manners and was wise beyond his years. It was an odd combination that left me asking this guy who I'd known for so long- who are you?!!!

He took me to my 1st AA meeting at the little green church on Emory Grove Rd. He stood right behind me when we walked in through the door. I balked and wanted to back out, but he stood in the threshold and wouldn't budge. He was big, and his form took up the entire space- there was no getting around him. He stood there with his that stupid smile and said we were going in. I pulled his chair so close to mine that I was practically sitting on my friend's lap. I cried through the entire meeting, but he had lots of tissue (and a ton of patience). He went to 30 meetings in 30 days with me.

FG- when you give your homilies and especially when you speak to the kids, you remind me of my friend. It is obvious to me that you want more for us than we often even know know to want for ourselves. Initially, I wanted sobriety because I could see how badly me friend wanted it for me.

At the Easter Vigil, I again thought of my friend. The look on your face as those men and women received the sacrements and became part of the church reminded me of the look on my friend's face when I received that 30 day chip. It was like I'd finally "arrived" and my friend completely "got it".

Eventually, my friend moved back to the mid-west. We kept in touch via phone and email, but eventually, communication became less frequent. In addition to alcoholism and drug addiction, my friend battled depression.... depression eventually won out.

I've had new fears I need to face lately. I've been offered a different lifeline- I think it's finally time to hold on.

At 1:34 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Living in faith not fear- quite a concept, and, atleast for me, not an easy one.

I'm not the most trusting person and that, combined with other psychological flaws I've identified within myself (lack of self-confidence, sometimes having a bad attitude, and, yes, FG- occasionally pride), I thought made me incapable of faith. I thought I had to have credulity to have faith, and that the rest of you believed without evidence or reason. I thought perhaps you all woke up each morning and willed yourselves into a state of belief. I had defined faith as something subjective. What I have finally come to understand is that faith comes with reason. Unlike my children who look at the world with a wonderment that amazes me, I need information- clear, meaningful information. That information came to me through listening to the Gospel. When I think back on all the years I just didn't get anything (or atleast I thought I didn't), all I needed to do was listen. Faith comes by hearing the message of the gospel. That was a message from Fr. Mike during a parent meeting in preparation for our childrens' First Communion that has resonated in me over this past year. It was life and faith changing. Faith isn't a leap into the dark and isn't ignorant. I had to re-educate myself and congintion helped me move into the conviction that Jesus can save me and will meet my needs. Conviction led me to the next step- commitment. For me, commitment, meant acknowledging that I am a sinner, which, in and of itself wasn't so hard, but I had to stop relying on myself for salvation and, instead rely upon Jesus- bringing me face-to-face with my trust issues. Now we come to the fear- I'd have to share my sins with someone else. Would I be judged or condenmed, and would I really be forgiven for simply stating what I had done, that I was sorry and doing some penance? Now, I've been to confession many times over the years, but this year I was brightly aware of what I was asking for. I was anxious- to say the least! I waited almost to the last minute before fullfilling my commitment to go to confession during Lent.

I've been reading more lately, and I came across a metaphor for faith-
Faith is like a chair. I understand the chair exists- I can see and touch it. I can see from the wear and tear done to the chair that others have sat in this chair before me, and I believe that it will be strong enough to hold me too. I sit down and relax knowing this chair is bearing my full weight.

Sorry for the long post, but I was so suprised to find how nice it was to actually "sit down and take a load off". I was expecting this big dose of bitter medicine, but really, I just felt better.

At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Markov said...


Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration? I went today after a LONG time and felt really good. I didn't stay for long but that is my beginning. I am really blessed that there is a church close to me that has virtual adoration in it. There is such a powerful feeling in the room. Today I just looked at Jesus on the Christ and thought how much He loves us. After I came out I felt such calm.

If you can, try to go to Eucharistic Adoration this week-you will feel great!

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

To Markov-
Actually, I have been going to Adoration. I am a visual person by nature, and I like things I can touch and see. Maybe it's child-like, but when I go, it's easier for me to appreciate all that is the Eucharist. The lights are usually low and many more candles are lit, so my eyes are drawn to the altar. It's not usually very crowded, and to me, that makes everything seem larger. Since the Eucharist is placed in the monstrace, it's easy to focus on, which helps me when my thoughts might otherwise wander(sometimes I think I've ADD). Adoration has helped me make a mind/body connection that has reconciled what I'd always thought faith must feel like versus what I am learning it to be. I also like when there is the music- it helps me relax. And the use of incense- as long as I'm not too close to the altar- brings me back to my childhood days. The sense of smell is our strongest, most memory invoking sense. The smell of incense takes me back to when I was little and found it so easy to accept what was right before me. Can't tell you about anything being right or wrong- it's just what helps me.

I've also brought my kids, and listening to them convey their experiences helped me want to look at things like that again. Young children find it so easy to effervesce in their beliefs. I think that's why I enjoy being around kids so much.

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous assumption question said...

Assumption- When Mary died, she was assumed into heaven - body and soul. Unlike others who have gone to heaven - only their souls for now. Jesus ascended (rose) into heaven-body and soul.

The bones of saints were preserved. As evidence that Mary was assumed body & soul, archeologists have never discovered any preservation of her bones.


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