Sunday, April 12, 2009

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!”


At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"First, because Jesus tells me that I need to receive the Eucharist if I want to get to Heaven."

I've never heard that before.

At 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do I dare say I hear some of your childhood here, "Yuhumm… let me think…..your dad was a lawyer wasn't he?" Did you kids ever get the cross examination routine, a result of his love and confidence in his family and profession?!

We hear, sermon after sermon, of your love and our religion's love for the Eucharist, and for good reason; the Eucharist is "C.O.O.L." Although the Resurrection and Eucharist can be thought of and defined as two separate concepts, can or do they really exist independently? Am I reading between the lines correctly when I associate the Resurrection as being the definition of the Eucharist?

At 10:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to add- I'm familiar with the Bread of Life discourse when Jesus told us that if we eat the living braed that comes down from Heaven we will live forever. I just don't think I've ever heard that it was a requirement to get there. Maybe I'm confused on your meaning.

At 8:48 AM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

Anon 2:30pm & 10:35pm

Thomas Aquinas says (if I read him aright) that the Eucharist is not required for salvation; salvation comes from the Sacrament of Baptism:

Article 3. Whether the Eucharist is necessary for salvation?

Objection 1. It seems that this sacrament is necessary for salvation. For our Lord said (John 6:54): "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you." But Christ's flesh is eaten and His blood drunk in this sacrament. Therefore, without this sacrament man cannot have the health of spiritual life.

Objection 2. Further, this sacrament is a kind of spiritual food. But bodily food is requisite for bodily health. Therefore, also is this sacrament, for spiritual health.

Objection 3. Further, as Baptism is the sacrament of our Lord's Passion, without which there is no salvation, so also is the Eucharist. For the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 11:26): "For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until He come." Consequently, as Baptism is necessary for salvation, so also is this sacrament.

On the contrary, Augustine writes (Ad Bonifac. contra Pelag. I): "Nor are you to suppose that children cannot possess life, who are deprived of the body and blood of Christ."

I answer that, Two things have to be considered in this sacrament, namely, the sacrament itself, and what is contained in it. Now it was stated above (1, Objection 2) that the reality of the sacrament is the unity of the mystical body, without which there can be no salvation; for there is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the Ark, which denotes the Church, according to 1 Peter 3:20-21. And it has been said above (Question 68, Article 2), that before receiving a sacrament, the reality of the sacrament can be had through the very desire of receiving the sacrament. Accordingly, before actual reception of this sacrament, a man can obtain salvation through the desire of receiving it, just as he can before Baptism through the desire of Baptism, as stated above (Question 68, Article 2). Yet there is a difference in two respects. First of all, because Baptism is the beginning of the spiritual life, and the door of the sacraments; whereas the Eucharist is, as it were, the consummation of the spiritual life, and the end of all the sacraments, as was observed above (Question 63, Article 6): for by the hallowings of all the sacraments preparation is made for receiving or consecrating the Eucharist. Consequently, the reception of Baptism is necessary for starting the spiritual life, while the receiving of the Eucharist is requisite for its consummation; by partaking not indeed actually, but in desire, as an end is possessed in desire and intention. Another difference is because by Baptism a man is ordained to the Eucharist, and therefore from the fact of children being baptized, they are destined by the Church to the Eucharist; and just as they believe through the Church's faith, so they desire the Eucharist through the Church's intention, and, as a result, receive its reality. But they are not disposed for Baptism by any previous sacrament, and consequently before receiving Baptism, in no way have they Baptism in desire; but adults alone have: consequently, they cannot have the reality of the sacrament without receiving the sacrament itself. Therefore this sacrament is not necessary for salvation in the same way as Baptism is.

Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine says, explaining John 6:54, "This food and this drink," namely, of His flesh and blood: "He would have us understand the fellowship of His body and members, which is the Church in His predestinated, and called, and justified, and glorified, His holy and believing ones." Hence, as he says in his Epistle to Boniface (Pseudo-Beda, in 1 Corinthians 10:17): "No one should entertain the slightest doubt, that then every one of the faithful becomes a partaker of the body and blood of Christ, when in Baptism he is made a member of Christ's body; nor is he deprived of his share in that body and chalice even though he depart from this world in the unity of Christ's body, before he eats that bread and drinks of that chalice."

Reply to Objection 2. The difference between corporeal and spiritual food lies in this, that the former is changed into the substance of the person nourished, and consequently it cannot avail for supporting life except it be partaken of; but spiritual food changes man into itself, according to that saying of Augustine (Confess. vii), that he heard the voice of Christ as it were saying to him: "Nor shalt thou change Me into thyself, as food of thy flesh, but thou shalt be changed into Me." But one can be changed into Christ, and be incorporated in Him by mental desire, even without receiving this sacrament. And consequently the comparison does not hold.

Reply to Objection 3. Baptism is the sacrament of Christ's death and Passion, according as a man is born anew in Christ in virtue of His Passion; but the Eucharist is the sacrament of Christ's Passion according as a man is made perfect in union with Christ Who suffered. Hence, as Baptism is called the sacrament of Faith, which is the foundation of the spiritual life, so the Eucharist is termed the sacrament of Charity, which is "the bond of perfection" (Colossians 3:14).

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 6 year old asks more questions than anyone else on this earth. She had good questions about Easter, but many have answers that aren’t easy to understand. I remembered something I did when my daughter was making her first confession (and was very anxious about it). I explained to my daughter that our sins were big problems that were keeping us from being as close to God as we could be.

I found dirty pennies and one brand new, shiny one. I explained that Jesus was like the shiny penny. The dirty pennies were like all of our sins. I put the dirty pennies in a cup of vinegar and salt and we waited about ten minutes. I explained the waiting was like the amazing time between Good Friday when He died and Easter when He arose. We took out the pennies and they were shiny- Jesus had risen and took away the burden of our sin. I explained that Jesus loves us so much that he doesn’t want us to be all gross and dirty (with sin). He wants us to be free of sin- all shiny. Now, each time she sins, when she gets older, she’ll go to confession and become shiny like that again.

It's a good visual for little ones.

At 1:12 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Because someone before here asked-

Taste of St. Andrew Potluck Dinner- May 2nd 6-9 pm- contact Theresa Comer thru Rel Ed office

Father-Daughter Dance (pre-K thru 5th grade) May 9th at SAA in the multipurpose room, cotact Mary Tull

MLS Soccer Camp at SAA for grades 1-9 (rising for 2009 school year), July 27-31 Contact-

At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back to the Obama issue.

It seems as if Notre Dame has a cousin, Xavier University, a Jesuit, Catholic, University located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Here is a post that was recently on their website. What's next?

Event Details
'Queer Week' presented by Xavier Alliance
Date: Monday, March 30 — Friday, April 03
Location: Throughout Campus
or call 513-807-3074

Description: A week to embrace and celebrate the use of queer as an inclusive, unifying socio-political term for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, straight, transsexual, intersexual, gender queer, or anyone else who supports the equality of all identities and expressions. Monday: 1:30 Distribution of ‘Gay, Fine By Me’ T-Shirts on the Greenspace 7pm Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Hate Crimes Tuesday: Queer Awareness Display and Tabling in Gallagher Wednesday: 7pm An academic performance by Kate Bornstein “On Women, Men and the Rest of Us” in Kelley Auditorium Thursday: 7pm Showing of ‘Milk’ with panel discussion in Gallagher Theater Friday: 4pm Same-Sex Hand Holding Day/Solidarity and Closing Ceremonies

At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read something that really made an impact on me-
After the Resurrection, when Mary Magdalene saw Jesus and clung to him, He told her to let him go. When Thomas had doubts, Jesus invited his touch. Both needed faith. Mary needed the kind of faith to “let go” and know that He would always be there, while Thomas needed proof to embrace his faith. Mary needed to let go while Thomas needed to hold on. For me, letting go and trusting in another’s ongoing presence is harder than requiring reassurance for a belief to begin with.

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Mirriam Webster-

1 a: worthless , counterfeit b: questionable , suspicious
2 a: differing in some odd way from what is usual or normal b (1): eccentric , unconventional (2): mildly insane : touched c: absorbed or interested to an extreme or unreasonable degree : obsessed d (1)often disparaging : homosexual (2)sometimes offensive : gay 4b
3: not quite well

Seems a little odd that's the term they'd choose

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes it’s hard enough to understand what it means to be Catholic, but for our youth, what a rough road. It’s seems like we (society, institutions of higher education, government) seek to promote some pseudo Catholic thinking that says, “I’m okay, you’re okay.” We’re not all okay- didn’t we just realize that this past week? I don’t understand how a Catholic institution can, in good conscience, promote an event that directly goes against what the Church teaches.

I hope that people of faith consider these things when offering endowments and other forms of financial support. If the voices of the Bishops have no effect here, perhaps the coffers will.

At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ref: 10:04 PM

Do you think our Lord is watching this and is disinterested?

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was very young when I had my first child and definitely didn’t think I was a welcomed member of the church community. However, I raised him with Christian values as I best knew them. He’s in law school and has been recently invited to do research for one of his professors on the incarceration and rehabilitation of youth. It’s a subject about which he feels strongly- redemption. We had an interesting conversation between his concept of redemption and the resurrection. He’s definitely going to be a good servant of the Lord, not to mention those kids whom he will work to free and rehabilitate.

At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm confused. How could the Lord possibly be watching and disinterested in our actions? He is the author of free will. Given the fact that He is always there to help us, I'd say the Lord is watching with total interest.

I think the more appropriate question is; "Do you think we are watching this and are disinterested?"

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Point 10:57 PM....
The comment "disinterested in our actions" was intended to point out ALL the evil in this world is being watched by our Creator. And hopefully enough of us do show interest in changing the course we are on before the choice is made for us.


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