Saturday, April 4, 2015

Homily (3) Easter Sunday ABC: Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (3) 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, and John 20:1-9

  Christ is Risen, Alleluia!!
Today is the “day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad”( Ps 118). We celebrate today Christ’s resurrection, the highest point of our Christian faith, as planned by God! Can you imagine what our Christian faith would be without the resurrection, without Easter day? Easter day, today, is the “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. It brings us newness of life.

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 of Good Friday! The passion ironically seems humiliating, but the Resurrection glorifies. It is a victorious combat divinely directed, since the tomb was never going to be Christ’s final destination.

Commenting on how quickly Christ’s resurrection was, Saint. Leo the Great said in his Sermon (71.2), “That Jesus hastened to rise as soon as possible because He was in a hurry to console His mother and the disciples.” The resurrection of Christ consoles us of the temporary sadness of the Good Friday!

The resurrection is a fact not fiction, as witnessed by Peter in today’s first reading (Acts10:34, 37-43).  Evangelist Luke documents, Peter’s personal life encounter with the Jesus of Nazareth. Born of Mary, baptized by John the Baptist, commissioned and anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach, heal, liberate the poor and the needy, visit those in prison and the down trodden. Similar, accounts is heard in Luke 4, “the spirit of the Lord is upon, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sights to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor ( Luke 4:18-19). In spite of Christ’s goodness and selflessness, they put Christ to death on the tree, as we witnessed on Good Friday. But on the 3rd day, “today” Peter says, God raised him from the dead.

Besides Peter, Saint Paul in his various preaching bore witness to the resurrection of Christ. 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.”

 In today’s 2nd readings (Colossians or 1 Corinthians) Paul speaks of the resurrection of Christ metaphorically, in in a coated language. In Colossian 3:1-4, the risen  Christ is already at the right hand of his Father, waiting for us, who are invited to constantly seeks things that “are above” holiness of life, those virtues, hope, faith and love. In this context, “right hand side” in ancient days, represent a pre-eminent place, an important position. The resurrection of Christ, puts us in a better position of joy, hope and union with the Lord.  It has a transforming impact. In 1 Cor 5:6b-8 Paul says, the resurrection of Christ is  like clearing the sorrow of the old yeast, old malice, old habits, especially the bad ones,  and making room for the joy of the new yeast, the newness of life ( 1 Cor 5:6b-8).

 It transforms us as it did to Mary Magdalene and the Disciples of Christ when they first encountered the empty tomb, and the linen cloth rolled by the side, as testified in all the Gospels (Matt 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20-21).  In John’s Gospel we are told Mary, a woman, first got to the tomb very early in the morning, out of love and care for Christ. When she found the stone removed from the tomb she ran back to inform Peter, John and other disciples. They all  came witnessing  the empty tomb and the burial cloths rolled up in a separate place. Christ has been raised!

 Each of these witnesses to Christ’s resurrection reacted differently. Mary ran back with amazement to inform others. Peter and his fellow disciples hurried with Mary to the tomb, and believed Mary’s testimony! Paul, on the other hand preached this testimony throughout his ministry. But one thing that is common among them, these witnesses, is a change, a reaction, a transformation, from one point to another, from unbelief to belief, from lack of understanding to understanding! The Bible says, they now understood, that Christ “had to be raised from the dead.” It was necessary, willed, designed and purposed by God his Father! When God blesses us no one can curse us! And God can use any of us as his instrument of witness: women, men, children, our pastors and neighbors, youths and elders! We are all the people of the resurrection!

 May the Resurrection of Christ brings us change in how we see the Good Friday; how we handle sufferings, illness, failures and life challenges. May it strengthen us in our baptismal promises to denounce sins, selfishness, violent, terrorism, bokoharamism, ISISism for Peace. And may the transforming joy/alleluia, blessings and newness of the Risen Lord reaches to our homes, schools, factories, offices, towns, counties, villages, nations and places of work!