Easter Sunday - homily
On behalf of Fr. Mike, our deacons, and our entire parish staff here at St. Andrew’s, I wish you all a happy Easter!
There is a bumper sticker that’s been around for a while that reads, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” It’s a good question for all of us to consider. For our purposes here, I will pose the question, “If you were on trial for being a Catholic, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” And, I will ask each of you to imagine that you are on trial here for being a Catholic. You are on the stand. Everyone else here is the jury; it’s a large jury! I will play the lawyer because, well, I’m already up here, so I might as well.
If I’m a good lawyer, the first question I will ask you is, “do you believe in the Resurrection? You say you are a Catholic; the most fundamental and basic question for any Catholic is, ‘do you believe in the Resurrection?”
I ask people that question when they come to me and say, “Father, I think I’m losing my Catholic faith. I don’t know if I believe anymore”. I ask them, do you believe in God? “Yes”. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? “Yes”. Do you believe in the Resurrection? “Um… yeah”. Not as strong as the first two answers! I ask them why they believe in the Resurrection. They might say, “um, I don’t know. I guess because…well, my parents taught me…priests…I just always have…I never really questioned it before”.
So, let’s say that you say this to the lawyer. He grills you – “you are on trial for being a Catholic. You need to give us better reasons than that”. Now, your answer was on the right track – we believe in the Resurrection because others have believed it. Here’s a fuller answer. You can say, “I believe in the Resurrection because of those who were there. I take their word for it. They saw the risen Christ! They saw him walking the Earth for forty days in his risen body. I wasn’t there, but I trust the testimony of those who were there.
Also, the Resurrection changed them. This event transformed their lives! Look at the Apostles – they were afraid to even tell people that they knew Jesus before the Resurrection. Then, they went out and told everyone about Him. They were so unafraid that all of them – except John – were martyred because of their faith in Christ. The Resurrection has to be real because so many people who were there were transformed”.
Now, the lawyer proceeds with another question. “Ok, you say that you believe in the Resurrection. But, how does your life show that you believe?” You could say, “I have hope. I live hope. The Resurrection gives me hope. Again, think about the Apostles and disciples. For three days, they had lost their hope. Jesus was their hope. They had hoped that He was the Messiah, the Son of God. But, then He died like any other man. For three days, their hope was crushed because they thought that Jesus wasn’t who they thought He was.
But, then, on the third day, He rose from the dead. He is risen! Imagine the hope this gave them! He is the Messiah. He is the Son of God. He brings life after death. He brings eternal life. He conquered death, He can conquer anything. He can conquer anything in my life. As Mother Teresa said, ‘don’t ever become so sad that you lose sight of the Resurrection’. The Resurrection is my source of hope”.
The lawyer asks a final question that will hopefully be an easy answer: “Do you practice your Catholic faith regularly?” He is prepared for an answer of ‘no’ or ‘I only go to Mass a couple of times a year’. So, he is ready with some comparisons such as, ‘if someone says they are athlete but only plays sports a couple of times a year, are they really an athlete? Or, if someone says that they are in a serious relationship with someone, but only sees that person a couple of times a year, is it really a serious relationship?’
Before he can make those points, you say, “Yes, I go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day. I need to be here. I need the Eucharist. First, because Jesus tells me that I need to receive the Eucharist if I want to get to Heaven. There is nothing more important in my life than getting to Heaven, so I need to be at Mass every Sunday to get there. But, I also want to be here. I want to be with Jesus and with others. This is about a relationship with a Person; it’s not about a religion. I want to receive Christ so that I receive His life and bring it to others. The Eucharist is the biggest thing that convicts me of being a Catholic.
My brothers and sisters, this will happen for each of us some day. We will all go before the judgement seat of God. Christ the Judge will ask us very similar questions. Hopefully, our answers will please Him! Hopefully, our answer will prompt Him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come, share in your master’s joy!”