Text of the homily (more or less… I may ad-lib at some points in the recorded version… ;-))
This is the day when everything has changed. Just on Friday, it seemed like death and misery would win yet again. Jesus had been killed by the pinnacle of worldly power, the Roman Empire. The disciples had been scattered. But on this Easter day, everything has changed. Death has lost. God’s life and love have won. Game over! As that beautiful, ancient Easter Proclamation says, “Let his holy building shake with joy!”
This day is what our faith is all about: Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, has risen from the dead! He’s done battle with sin and defeated it. He’s done battle with death and destroyed it. And now Jesus offers each of us, by name, his gift of new life.
This is the gift of life that made such a shocking entrance on that Easter morning, as we just heard. It’s a gift that so stunned the guards at the tomb that they were fearful, and they shook and became like dead men – they weren’t sure what to do or how to react! It’s a gift that so amazed the two Marys that all they could do was to throw themselves at the feet of Jesus in utter astonishment and in worship, and then go to Galilee and tell the others what they had seen. From this moment, everything changed for them and for the disciples and for the entire world.
One of my many favourite lines from Pope Francis (you know I’ve got lots of them!) came in his short little 224 page letter he wrote last November, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). Pope Francis wrote: “[I]t is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have known him, not the same thing to walk with him as to walk blindly, not the same thing to hear his word as not to know it, and not the same thing to contemplate him, to worship him, to find our peace in him, as not to.” (Evangelii Gaudium 266).
Jesus changes everything. Because of Jesus, we can now live forever! Because of Jesus, our lives can be transformed and we’re given a new, eternal purpose! Easter is not simply some other holiday on the calendar – some extra days off. The resurrection is not just some event from a long ago and we tell the story because it’s kind of nice. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the very heart of the matter. The resurrection is the gift that here and now changes everything. Jesus lives forever, and in him, so do we.
The same Jesus who appeared to those two women, and then to the disciples in Galilee, and to so many others after he rose from the dead is the same Jesus who is here today. The church teaches us how he’s here in his people gathered together. He’s here in his Scriptures being proclaimed. He’s here most especially, physically, in the Eucharist. And like he said to those women so long ago, so today he says to each of us here: “Greetings! … Do not be afraid!” I’m going to Galilee. I’m going to your community. I’m going to your home. I’m going to your heart. “Greetings!”
The Risen Lord gives his greetings you today, personally. And now nothing can be the same as it once was.
Today, Easter Sunday, we have an wonderful invitation, once again, to respond to his greeting. The Church gives us today a powerful opportunity to recommit our lives to following Jesus by renewing the vows of our baptism, that day when his life first flooded our souls. We can once again reject sin and profess our faith and allow his victory to renew our lives.
Let’s take hold of this opportunity! The risen Jesus says to each of you, personally: “Greetings!” And we are invited to respond.
In him we receive everything that is truly, eternally good.
In him, we can echo those classic words of St. Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well!”
In him we are changed and in him we live forever.
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