EASTER SUNDAY, April 4
John 20: 1-9
I’m sure that all of us realize what a rut we get ourselves into in our daily living practices. We attitude ourselves into this rut. We are all creatures of habit. We do everything the same way all the time; we eat the same way, we get dressed in the same order, we use the same phrases and expressions in speaking, we drive a car the same way, we comb our hair the same way with the same number of strokes every time. And, yes, we commit the same sins time after time as we see when we go to confession.
It doesn’t have to be this way in everything. Focus, if you will, for just a few moments on the wording of the opening prayer for this Easter Liturgy: Let our celebration today raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us. Amen, Amen!!! The way I read these words tells me that I can choose to raise myself up, I can rise to a new way of doing things. I don’t have to stay in that same old rut. And this feast of Easter reminds me of that. Later on this week we will see the characteristics of the glorified body, the risen body. The risen body changes. It is not the same as the previous body.
This, as I see it, is the meaning of resurrection for us. Jesus told the disciples to “Follow me.” This means that we follow his way, truth and life physically and spiritually. We are to imitate him, do as he did, follow his values. And if we do that, we will rise from the dead, we will rise from the same old rut we get ourselves into.
Fallen human nature, as such, is not so great. We see it as selfish to the extreme, violent, greedy, hateful, revengeful, lustful to the extreme, murderous, warlike, unforgiving, resentful, and on and on. It is all about me. Not a very pretty picture really. This is certainly not the kind of life we want in the Christian era.
Christ came literally to raise us up from all of this. We are to follow him, imitate him, make his values ours. Jesus showed himself to be loving, compassionate, serving, humble, honest, peaceful, happy, joy-filled, forgiving, just, respectful and at home with the Father forever. This is our direction. We are also to be all of these things and the reward is life after death, eternal life, in the presence of God. We follow Jesus in his resurrection from the dead, too.
So, be it known on this Easter Day that we can rise too. We do not have to continue on in the same old rut, doing everything the same old way. We can change. All we have to do is desire the change and ask the good Lord to help us. He came to make all things new, and that includes us.
Jesus, you are the resurrection and the new life. Help us to be like you.
EASTER MONDAY, April 5
Mt. 28: 8-15
It is interesting in the resurrection Gospels to note the great involvement of women. The first to see the Risen Savior was Mary Magdelene. She is also regarded by many as the first evangelist, as she was the first one to carry the news of the Resurrection of Jesus to the other disciples. So many of the disciples of Jesus are women. And we all know the evangelizing powers of women in the church today. Women spread the Good News to us in our homes, classrooms, and where we work. Without women, evangelism and the Church would come to a standstill.
It seems to me to be time for the women in the Church to receive their just due. Women in society and in the Church continue to be put down far below their worth. I realize I am powerless over changing this situation or it would have been changed a long time ago. But I do believe we as individuals should stop taking all that women do for us for granted and pray for them and affirm them often for the great job they are doing.
EASTER TUESDAY, April 6
John 20: 11-18
We spoke in the homily for yesterday about Mary Magdelene being regarded by many as the first evangelist. And from what we read in the Acts of the Apostles and elsewhere, many of the other disciples, Peter, John, and Paul among them, began to spread the Gospel news of the Resurrection everywhere they went. The Resurrection increased their love for the Lord Jesus and they just had to tell others about it.
All of the disciples, I dare say, loved Jesus very much. We certainly see this great love with Mary Magdelene and Peter in particular. And their love for Jesus went to their hearts. It didn’t stop at their heads. This is why they were so great at spreading the Good News of Jesus. They truly loved him and their love forced them to share what they had. I hear some evangelists on TV and elsewhere who seem to be just going through the motions and this isn’t good enough. Before we preach or minister in any way we should first ask ourselves if we truly love Jesus with our hearts. And if the answer is no, then we are just spinning our wheels.
EASTER WEDNESDAY, April 7
Luke 24: 13-35
“Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
Today’s Gospel selection for this Easter Wednesday is the story of the two disciples who were going to a village named Emmaus and they met Jesus on the way but did not recognize him. We are all, I am sure, familiar with this story.
When I noticed that this was the Gospel for today, a question come to me that I would like to ask all of you: Do you have at least one meal a day in common with the other members of your family and does everyone remain at the table until all are finished eating? I think a yes answer to this question is of the utmost importance. It is important because this is where relationships are born and grow. This is where we learn to speak respectfully to the other members of the family and truly come to know them. We listen to their stories over and over and really come to realize how important they are in our homes and in our lives. We learn what being a parent, brother or sister, is all about and our respect and love for the sacrifices of each for all the rest grows and increases.
We recognize the needs of others and they recognize mine. We see where we can be of benefit to each other and make the other’s task easier. We learn at the dinner table to support each other, to be there for the other and to affirm the goodness of the other. Without that meal in common everyday, all of this is lost. And that truly is a shame and the source of many disjointed families, of the family where all are going their separate ways and fall repeatedly.
The Christophers used to have a saying: The family that prays together stays together. I think it could just as well read: The family that breaks bread together stays together.
EASTER THURSDAY, April 8
Luke 24, 41-43
In today’s Gospel for Easter Thursday, Jesus appears to his disciples and wishes them his Shalom, his peace, and reassures them that they should not be troubled by all that happened. He does his best to show that it is he himself speaking to them. He has them look at his hands and feet and to touch him, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones. He asks them for something to eat. They gave him a piece of baked fish and he ate it while they watched. Then he proceeded to explain the Scriptures to them and reminded them again of their duty to preach his resurrection and the forgiveness of sins to all the nations.
This passage also tells the nature of the glorified body of Jesus. This body is not recognizable immediately to friends and loved ones. It is not bound by the limits of time and space but at the same time it is a physical body. His wounds are there to see yet they cause no pain. This is a fine description of the resurrected body and Luke wants us to know that the same destiny awaits us.
EASTER FRIDAY, APRIL 9
JOHN 21: 1-14
In our Gospel from John for today’s Liturgy, Jesus appears to his disciples for the third time. Things appear to have settled down a bit and Peter announced he was going fishing for a change. Thomas, Bartholomew, James and John and two others said they would also go along. They went out and fished all night and caught nothing.
Then Jesus came and stood on the shore. They did not recognize him. He asked them if they had caught anything and when they replied in the negative, he told them to try the other side of the boat. They then proceeded to catch a boatload of fish, literally. After they got back to shore, Jesus invited them to cook some of the fish they had caught and have a little breakfast. Finally, they realized their benefactor was Jesus himself. They joined him for breakfast. Do you think Jesus would like Perkins?
EASTER SATURDAY, April 10
Mark 16: 9-15
The past three days we have had Gospel readings from Luke and John. Today we hear from St. Mark. All these readings are about Jesus appearing to his disciples after the resurrection. Yesterday we noted that things had settled down a bit following the Passover with the Passion and Death of Jesus followed by the Resurrection. Once again Jesus eats with the disciples and reprimands them a bit for their tardiness and doubt in believing he had risen from the dead.
And now, it is time to get back to work, and Jesus really knew how to hand out the work. He told the disciples to “go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” No small task, and you and I are still at it in our generation. How many more generations will have the same task, we do not know. But no matter how many, Jesus will be with his disciples to help them spread his message just as he is present to us.
May God bless the ministry of the Church!