A Sign Of Hope

“This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Certainly this Easter Sunday is a day of the Lord in a most unique and special way as we celebrate the power of God to bring out of death New Life.  We gathered on Good Friday remembering the power of evil that nailed Jesus to the Cross. We walked with Jesus, we stood at the foot of the cross. We watched as he was placed in the Tomb and we remember that historical fact of Jesus’ death upon the cross and his burial, but today we come to to celebrate the resurrection and it’s interesting that our scripture reading today does not really talk directly about the resurrection.  It talks about the about the fact that when the women went there the stone had been rolled back and they found there was no one there. The body was not there and so they went and told the others and Peter and John came and they too, witnessed the fact that the tomb was empty. The empty tomb does not prove the resurrection. An empty tomb just means there’s no body there. The proof of the resurrection came as those Apostles and the other followers of Jesus experienced Jesus personally that they had a personal encounter with Christ Jesus that they came to know the gift of that Risen Lord.  They experienced the resurrected Christ and it was only when they experienced the resurrected Christ that they knew resurrection themselves. That they knew new life through the power of the Holy spirit. Those 40 days in which Christ appeared to them manifested himself in his risen body but then he sent the Holy Spirit when and it was finally on Pentecost is when the apostles came to a deeper understanding but it was always because of a personal encounter with the risen Christ Jesus. We remember the reality of death. We know that there is death within our world, within our lives. We know the power that there is disintegration.  We know that there is the power of evil that kills not the body but the spirit and we are reminded though that the power of Jesus is one to overcome that of evil to bring about new life, eternal life.
As I was thinking about an image for today’s homily with the resurrection I couldn’t help but think about the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral this past week.  I’m sure we all witnessed at least glimpses of that on television and certainly that was a tragedy for particularly the French people and they mourn that for many different reasons, some because it was the house of God, some because it was a national monument almost a museum or an art gallery, but they mourn the fact of that burning and recognize that there was a need to rebuild but I really as I looked at those images on television I couldn’t help but think of how maybe that is kind of emblematic, symbol of the unfortunate state of faith within the Western Civilization where secularization and where over concern just about the moment about the pleasure of the time has really eclipsed the act of faith, but there is a small and powerful group of remnant among all of those in Western Europe that continues to be a sign of Hope but we know that the collapse of that roof took place partly because of the fire but also because the building had been neglected.  There was rot within the building. There was that disintegration and maybe that’s a reminder of what can happen to faith life, that faith life can become weakened if it is not attended to, that our faith can become very much just a passing thing of a day or two rather than really permeating our lives, but it is only if our faith is strong, if it is nurtured will it be able to sustain itself in the midst of the perils in the midst of the problems of our life.  One of the things that was interesting to me was that the walls are still standing as well as the main bell towers, but inside the church there was a statue of the Blessed Mother a piera, holding the dead body of Christ and right behind was a large gold crucifix, a reminder of Jesus’ suffering but also his resurrection. What a beautiful symbol that those survived in the midst of that terrible destruction and Fire. To me, glimmers of hope. Hope not just for the rebuilding of that church but hope for rebuilding of faith because it truly is the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus that will bring about new faith, new life, new vitality for Christ enters into the ashes of life in order to bring forth his resurrection and it’s the same within our lives.  It’s the same within our church. I’m convinced that the unfortunate things within our church the devastation that we have seen because of the abuse of power and the abuse of others yes, it’s terrible in itself and must be rejected totally but I also believe that Jesus will use that also as the moment of grace to bring about deeper spirituality deeper commitment deeper relationship in a greater life in Christ Jesus and Jesus wants to enter into our own personal lives where we experience disaster where we experience disintegration where we experience all the conflicts that accompany us in life to allow Jesus in because Jesus will transform. He will bring about new life. It’s only though for us if we encountered the risen Christ ourselves that we will truly come to faith.  Each of us needs to have that deep awareness of Christ living today. We don’t come today just to celebrate a historical fact yes, it’s a historical fact, Jesus rose from the dead but we come to celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive today and that we can encounter Christ today and the power of his resurrection, the power of his eternal life and that we are called to encounter him in so many ways in other people, in his word, in baptism but I would also say most of in the eucharist that every Eucharist is an experience of the Risen Christ yes, it is the body of Christ given over it’s the blood of Christ poured out but in every Eucharist it is to glorify Christ it is the Christ living in glory who becomes present on our altar, who comes into our own body as he shares with us his very self and so we are called to truly experience the resurrection of the Lord not just to celebrated it as a remembrance but as a reality for our life today.  Many of you know that is one of my favorite dialogues around the Resurrection comes from the Eastern Church where the one person says ‘Christ is risen’, ‘Christ is truly risen!’ is the response. Christ is risen. That’s the reality that’s the historical fact. Yes, Christ rose from the dead. The apostles, others experienced him and he transformed their lives. Christ is truly risen means that Christ is risen in my life that I have experienced the risen Lord Jesus that I know the power of the Resurrection that I know the power of forgiveness and of healing and of growing in new life that I truly experience the Risen Christ. That is the call for each and every one of us to open our mind our heart in faith to allow in the risen Christ Christ. Yes, Christ is risen and hopefully we can say, ‘Christ is truly risen in my life and in yours.’ Alleluia!”