Friday, April 18, 2014

Homily (2) Easter Sunday ABC: Michael U. Udoekpo


Homily (2) Easter Sunday ABC: Michael U. Udoekpo

Readings: Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Ps 118:1-2, 16-17,22-23; Col 3:1-4 or 1 Cor 5:6b-8; Matt 28:1-9;Mark16:1-8;Luke24:13-35,andJohn20:1-9

  Alleluia, Christ is Risen!!

My dear friends in Christ Psalm 118 sets the tone for today’s celebration. The psalmist invites us to ‘Give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love endures forever” (Ps 118:1). He invites us to sing and shout Alleluia, for Christ has risen. Christ’s resurrection wipes away our tears. It brings us joy and gladness.

 What we celebrate today is the highest point of our Christian faith.  Easter Day! It is a” Feast of Feasts” a “Solemnity of Solemnities.” It is a day that death has not only been annulled but defeated. By his Resurrection Christ guarantees us eternal life. He guarantees us that the Tomb will never be our final destination nor that of our loved ones.  Faith in what we celebrate today, Christ’s resurrection transforms us from darkness to light and from the feeling of despair to hope.

Of course, that mixed events of Palm Sunday and of the Stations of the Cross of the Good Friday, humanly speaking, would have been thought of as a defeat, but divinely speaking the Resurrection is a victory which repairs this seeming defeat. The passion ironically seems humiliating, but the Resurrection glorifies. It is a victorious combat divinely directed, since the tomb was never going to be the final destiny of Jesus.
St. Leo the Great in his Sermon (71, 2) commenting on Christ’s resurrection said, “That Jesus hastened to rise as soon as possible because He was in a hurry to console His mother and the disciples.” The resurrection not of Christ consoles us of the temporary sadness of the Good Friday!

This is the key to interpreting Christ ministry, his whole life and the foundation of our faith. Without the victory of Christ over death our gathering here today, our preaching would be useless and our faith in vain (I Cor 15:14-17). I am sure none of us here would doubt this truth, this core value of our Christian faith- that Christ was raised from the death.

Even if there is anybody here who is not easily persuaded like the doubting Thomas in John 20:24-29 the good news is that, Thomas did not persist forever in his disbelief. Thomas will come back to believe. At the end of the day Thomas says  in Gospel, “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28). If we dispose ourselves, faith can transform us and assist us even in moments of doubts and frustrations.

Resurrection is a fact, not a fiction. Remember, there are several witnesses and testimonies to this truth beyond the scope of this liturgy.  St. Paul in 1 Corinthian 15:3-8 reliably says,

 “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried …raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…appeared to Cephas, then the Twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive… Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all…he also appeared to me.”
Cephas (Peter himself) in today’s first reading, Acts of the Apostles (10:34, 37-43) presents his personal sermon on Christ’s ministry of healing though rewarded with death on a tree which turns out to be the wood of the tree of life.  By eating and drinking with Christ after his Resurrection, we like the earlier Apostles are reassured and commissioned to preach Christ as a constant refreshment and nourishment of us, especially at the table of the Eucharist.

Besides, Peter and Paul, the Four Evangelists Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20-21 testify the Resurrection of Christ and his appearances. to his disciples. After the resurrection Christ walks with them, and in other occasion he eats fish with the disciples.  It is also important to remember that the truth recorded in these Gospels was not written before the Resurrection.  They were written after, by people who lived the “DARKNESS” of suffering and passion and had  the opportunity also to witness the ”LIGHT”, the “JOY” the “VICTORY” and the transforming truth and power of the Resurrection.

 In today’s gospel in particular (John 20:1-9) we share the story of the witnesses of those women who came to empty tomb of the risen Jesus on the first day of the week. Mary Magdalene filled with love for Christ went to the tomb very early when it was still dark. She found the stone rolled away. Note how she reacted. Like the Samaritan women in John 2, she reacted very quickly by running back to informed Peter and the other Disciple Christ, setting the tone for our personal reflection on how we react faithfully to the transforming power of Christ loving encounter with us.

She further said to Peter and others, “they have taken the Lord from the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him.”  She initially thought that the body was stolen, but ironically setting the stage for faith. Notice also the reaction of Peter. “Peter and the other disciple also ran to the tomb. Lots of running!  Quite unlike Peter who was initially running away from the “ugly” trial scene. The transformed Peter is now running to the triumphal scene of the Resurrection. Though the Beloved Disciple is the first to arrive Peter is the first to embrace the burial cloth in the empty tomb.  With this cloth they came to believe that Christ had actually risen to die no more. So much to learn from Christ’s disciples, beginning with Mary Magdalene!
I think Mary Magdalene could be seen as disciple who not only genuinely loved and search for Jesus, but was attached to Jesus, remember he is the truth, the light, the way, the bread of life and the source of  eternal salvation. Like Mary we are called not only to believe but to bear witnesses to our faith where ever we find ourselves each day. Peter had once stumbled but he made it to sainthood, Saint Peter!

That you are sick today does not mean that you cannot get well tomorrow. That you have been laid off from a particular job does not mean that all labor doors are closed against you. That you have once in your life doubted the Resurrection or any aspect of our faith or stumble like Peter does not mean you cannot turn things around.

 That there have been war and misunderstanding in the past does not mean that we cannot work for peace and reconciliation today and for the future! That there is war in Middle East and Ukraine today does not mean that the party cannot search for a common ground of peace! That many had no health insurance and job in the past does not mean that things cannot be turned around in the future. That a student got a poor grade last semester does not mean a better grade cannot be worked for, in the future. There is always room for home. There is always room for improvement  and for joy,which Christ’s resurrection remind us.

 As we rejoice today may our faith be strengthened by the transforming power of Christ's Resurrection and be reassured that suffering, illness, violence, wars, failures and even death are never our destinations nor desires. Rather, our destinations and desires are good health, success, peace, reconciliation, joy of Easter and eternal life in Christ Jesus.