Saturday, April 15, 2017

Homily for Easter Sunday Year ABC: Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily for Easter Sunday Year ABC: Michael Ufok Udoekpo

·         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;John20:1-9

  By His Resurrection He opens for us the way to a New Life!

As the Psalmist would put it, “this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:24). Let us sing Alleluia for the Lord has risen! Before the joy of the risen Lord today, and over the Triduum, you and I travelled a long way of the events of the Holy Thursday and Good Friday. By Christ’s death on that Good Friday, he liberates us from sin. By his resurrection today, Christ guarantees us eternal life. He opens for us the way to new life of grace and freedom (CCC 654). The new yeast and a fresh batch of dough that Paul speaks of in the 2nd reading (1Cor 5:6b-8). He transforms us from all forms of darkness (social, economic, religious, and cultural) to a light of peace, joy and justice. From the feeling of rejection, mockery, intimidation, Pilate’s colonialism, abuse, oppression, bullying, false accusations of  the Good Friday, seeming defeat or despair to hope. From that which is below to that which is above in Christ (Col 3:1-4).

What would Christianity have been without the truth of the resurrection? If everything ended on Palm Sunday, or on Good Friday, during the celebration of our Lord’s Passion, or during the Stations of the Cross, or with the five sorrowful mysteries, without the joyful and glorious ones, or, without the victory of Christ over death, St. Paul in 1 Corinthian 15:14-17 says, our today’s gathering would  be meaningless. Our preaching, our songs and hymns would be useless. Our faith would be in vain. We would be like a sheep without a shepherd. If everything ended with the red vestment of Good Friday, there wouldn’t have been the golden and white vestment we wear today. If everything ended with the bare and undecorated altar of Good Friday, there wouldn’t have been this beautifully decorated altar; the joyful song Gloria, the ringing of the bell, and all that they stand for.
Thanks be to God Our Lord has been raised from the dead. This is the event that Peter, the foremost of Christ’s disciples bears  personal witness to in  today's 1st reading (Acts 10:34a, 37-43). Peter encourages us to do the same in our families, in our communities, in our neighborhood, in our parishes and in our dioceses. Peter unequivocally, says,

“You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good, and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on the tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible... to us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead….. He commissions us to preach…. To him all the prophet bear witness.”
Apart from Peter and Paul, all the Four Evangelists (Matthew 28;, Mark 16 Luke 24 and John 20-21) all bear strong witness to the resurrection. In today’s gospel (John 20:1-9) Mary Magdalene filled with great love for Christ came to empty tomb of the risen Jesus on the first day of the week when it was still dark. She found the stone rolled away.  Like the Samaritan women in John 4, she reacted very quickly by running back to inform Peter and the other Disciples, setting the tone for how we celebrate today, and how we react when we encounter Christ in our family members, in the songs we sing, in the Eucharist we share in the poor and the immigrant we reach out to.

What also interest me in the Gospel is how Mary of Magdala who by saying to Peter, “they have taken the Lord from the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him,” thought the body of Christ was stolen, would eventually come to faith in the resurrection. Even the once “denying Peter” who was once running away from the trial scene of Jesus, is now a transformed Peter. A new Peter. With Mary’s news he is running to the tomb. Though the other disciple is the first to arrive. Peter is the first to embrace the burial cloth in the empty tomb of Jesus.
Where are you running to or from, on this Easter Sunday? From belief to unbelief or from unbelief to belief in the truth of the resurrection? What do you do with the news of the resurrection? What does the empty tomb say to you? Are you Peter, Paul, or Mary Magdalene in these testimony episodes of the resurrection?

 Mary Magdalene could be seen as disciple who not only genuinely loved and searched for Jesus. She was attached to Jesus. Remember she knew him as 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 with new zeal, joy an energy. Peter had once stumbled but he made it to sainthood.
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. There is always a change from below to above where Christ is. From Good Friday to Easter and from sorrow to joy!

 As we rejoice today may our faith be strengthened by the transforming power of Christ's Resurrection and be reassured by his resurrection he opens for us the way to a new life!

Reflection questions:

1.    What does the resurrection of Christ mean for you? How do you share this with members of your faith community?

2.    Like Christ’s disciples, where are running to on this Easter Sunday after you encounter with the empty tomb?

3.    What does the empty tomb say to you newly? Are you Peter, Paul, or Mary Magdalene in these testimony episodes of the resurrection?