Happy Easter Everyone!
I love that we get to celebrate Easter for 50 days. In the Church's wisdom we have 40 days of Lent to prepare and 50 days of Easter to celebrate the wonderful mystery and gift of the Resurrection.
Below you can find my homily for the Third Sunday of Easter:
This week I drove Fr. Phil up to Staten Island so that he could give a talk to some Secular Franciscans and while he was giving the talk I surprised a close friend of my family who is like another mother to me, I call her Aunt. I unexpectedly showed up at my aunt’s front door. She was on the phone and slowly opened the door to see who would be knocking at the door. Once she realized that it was I, she hung up the phone and gave me a big hug and kiss. She recognized me immediately. She invited me into her house and to have something to eat. We took time to talk about how things have been going and what has happened since the last time we saw each other. She asked about how it was to be living in Point Pleasant and I said “It was all right.” No I told her that everything was great, especially living with Fr. Richard (He was the presider at Mass). But after the initial joy of the reunion was somewhat spent, we got down to talking about more serious things that are important to both of us. For example she asked if I was really happy living as a friar and how things have been going in my family. In the end we both were reminded of how it is always a joyous occasion when someone to whom you feel very close drops in to visit you unexpectedly. Maybe you have experienced the same thing when a son or daughter who has moved away to another state comes home unexpectedly to visit or when a close friend of yours surprises you at work, there is tremendous joy in the reunion.
In the Gospel we hear of a reunion like this. Jesus unexpectedly stands in the midst of the disciples. There was no knock or opening of a door, Jesus just appeared. The disciples were startled and terrified like my aunt was. They had no time to prepare for Jesus coming, in fact the disciples did not recognize him. Jesus now in a resurrected state was not easily recognizable, but Jesus showed them his hands and his feet, offering them to touch them. He reminded them that he had flesh and thus was not a ghost. The disciples were then filled with joy. Jesus and his disciples did what we do with guests, they ate together. Even after Jesus rose from the dead, he ate with his disciples like he always did. We see continuity between the pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus, he did a very human thing, sharing a meal.
We need to remember, that no one saw Jesus rise from the dead. We do not have the event captured through any eyewitness accounts or pictures. Jesus’ resurrection was made known us from the fact that the tomb was empty and by his appearances to his friends and disciples, like the one we hear today.
We know that Jesus and his disciples talked. Maybe they took time to talk about how things have been going and what has happened since the last time they saw each other. Maybe the disciples shared what is what like to watch Jesus die or to live without him for a couple days. We do not know. We do know that after the initial joy of the reunion, Jesus and the disciples got down to talking about more serious things that are important to both of them.
I can’t imagine what it was like for the disciples to have Jesus – now risen from the dead – in their midst talking about himself being the fulfillment of the Scriptures. To have Jesus talk about the forgiveness of sins, which is now to be offered to others through the disciples themselves. To receive the mandate to preach to all nations in Jesus’ name.
This mandate does not stop with the first disciples of Jesus. This mandate for the forgiveness of sins and to preach in Jesus’ name to all the nations, continues with you and me. Forgiveness of sins may be done by actually forgiving someone when they say “Sorry.” This may mean letting go of past hurts, instead of holding on to them forming resentment towards those that hurt you. Or talking to and supporting that family member that others seem to ignore. Preaching Jesus’ name to all the nations, may be as simple as telling your friends and family where you really are on Saturday Evenings (or Sunday mornings) - at Church - instead of just saying you are busy at that time. It could be writing "God Bless You", "God Loves You", or "I am praying for you" in the next card you write or text you send. Or it can be posting something about your faith on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. What began in Jerusalem, continues here in Point Pleasant Beach. What began with the disciples, continues with you.
Third Sunday of Easter Homily
April 19, 2015
St. Peter's Church
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ