•Acts 10: 34, 37-43; Col. 3:1-4; John 20: 1-9•
Weekly Scripture Readings: Easter Sunday
(the Gospel reading to which you link above does not have the complete text that Father Jim is using as the basis for his homily…Reyanna)
In preparing this homily I suddenly realized why you and most Catholic parents want to share your faith and liturgical life with your children. You may express it differently than I, but please consider this.
Christ is Risen! (Truly he is risen!) All of us yearn to be fully alive and fully human. I feel very alive. I feel far more human than I was even ten years ago. Quite simply I feel blest and am very grateful for who and what I am. My experience of the Risen Christ shaped and inspired my life and values. My experience of the Risen Christ formed me to be who I am. I suspect you are able to say the same. This is what you want for your children!
Christ is Risen! (Truly he is risen!) It is difficult to choose the right words when we move beyond the categories of time and spirit in which human life is lived. So the earliest Christian communities struggled, as we still do, to find words to express their experience of Jesus after the crucifixion. They never intended the written gospels to be read as historical documents or biographies of Jesus. The gospels are more like editorial pages. They were written to help us understand the deeper implications of experiences shared by the communities that composed them.
We hear this in the Fourth Gospel. In four stories the author seeks to convey the meaning of resurrection. He paints an interior experience in external colors using objective words.
Listen closely to the story today about Mary Magdalen. It is filled with very human responses: grief, surprise and confusion.
Jesus has been buried. “Mary came to the tomb while it was still dark.” She was the sole mourner at the tomb. “Darkness” is a subtle way of telling us she was numb with grief. She had no hope. Then she is startled! The stone had been removed. Her response is so human. She stood there “weeping.” “As she wept, she bent over and looked into the tomb; and saw two mystical figures.” The brief dialogue expresses her inner turmoil. Then “she turned and saw Jesus standing there, but did not know it was him.” Another brief dialogue expresses her inner confusion.
He speaks her name and she moves to be near him. “No! Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to my God and your God.” This has nothing to do with physicality. It is not about seeing a resuscitated body. It is as if the text is saying “I am in the process of being transformed. I am moving beyond all human limits to enter into that which is universal, unending and ultimate.” In that moment she saw the meaning of life and claimed it for her own. Then she went to his other companions with this message. “I have seen the Lord.”
During his public life, his companions saw Jesus love freely and inclusively. They saw him step beyond the defensive barriers of our instinctual drive to survive. They saw him submit to a violent death without retaliation. He had become so fully alive and so fully human that no tomb could hold him and no barrier could stand between him and those who find new life in him.
Gradually they realized that something never witnessed before in human history happened to Jesus. They were convinced God raised Jesus to some new form of spiritual being. The “new reality” he proclaimed was emerging! Finally the world would be different.
He is alive, still here, still present, still among us in an entirely new way. He had entered a new dimension of life, a new humanity, a mystical oneness with God, and all that is. Now he knows who he is and who God. Neither death nor the past cling to him. It is difficult to choose the right words.
“That is how Easter always dawns!” I have never seen the Risen One, but I have experienced his presence and spirit.