Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday word, 08 Apr 2007

1Easter (08 Apr 2007) Ac 10. 34a, 37-43; Ps 118; 1Co 5. 6b-8; Jn 20.1-9
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Rolled and Unrolled

Out of the chaos of Holy Week, when God seemed absent, God acted definitively. The Psalmist phrased it: This is the day the Lord has made. Out of the chaos of Jesus’ passion and death, something absolutely new, absolutely different and without rival happened: Jesus exhausted death by going through it and God, whom he called my dear Father, delivered Jesus and raised [Jesus] on the third day and granted that he be us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. Peter’s words also apply to us because we eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood at his table. Our communion with and in Jesus makes us his witnesses. What might that mean for us? I take my cue from the cloth that had covered his head while his body was in his tomb. Hasten with me in the steps of Peter and John that morning.

Peter and John found a tomb empty of Jesus’ body with burial cloths strewn around save one. That one was the cloth that had covered the face and head of the dead Jesus. In his tomb, the Fourth Gospel reminded us, that cloth was not with the others but rolled up in a separate place.

That suggests a few things to me I’d like you to ponder: first, our relationship with death. Jesus’ resurrection was no resuscitation. Jesus did not resume his mortal life. Jesus lived in an absolutely new way, which the word glorious, in his glorious resurrection, conveys. The cloth rolled up in a separate place reminds us that because we have already died and risen with Jesus in baptism we can live free from death’s frightening, fearful control. Our bodies will die, of course, but Easter-hope reminds us that we are far more than our bodies.

Second. not only was the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head while he was in the tomb separated from those which had absorbed the smell and shape of death, it was rolled up. One can readily imagine what John and Peter saw: a jumble of hundreds of strips of linen winding-sheets, which the ancients used to bury people. Yet the cloth that had covered [Jesus’] head was rolled up. Out of the messy confusion, stench and pain of death God’s action for life, raising Jesus in the power of their Spirit, blesses each person who believes in Jesus with the new order, fresh vigor and sweet aroma we name a share already in the life to come.

Last, this explosion of divine life within us and around us often escapes our notice. It stretches us and gives our Christian personalities a smooth and inviting texture. Yeast raising dough into bread is an image of this easily unnoticed divine stretching. This image complements the image of the burial cloth, which Peter and John saw rolled up in a separate place, because we are to unroll, to open and to appreciate divine life within and around us each day. Easter and its hope and vision of Jesus never more to die free us to appreciate ourselves, others, indeed the entire universe in new ways. Easter hope and its vision of our risen Jesus point us forward and encourage us to live lives of sincerity and truth, as St. Paul encouraged us.

In your 15 minutes each day with Jesus week, ask for the grace of a new and renewing relationship with the Trinity. Becalm yourself in the presence of the Divine Persons. Ask Mary of Mag, Peter and John to present you to our risen Jesus. Speak with Jesus about your fears or resentments, any discouragement or energies which discourage others. Focus on one of them: offer it to Jesus so that he may take from you and roll it up and free you of it. Praise Jesus and resolve to reach no more for what you offered Jesus in your prayer. Close your time by slowing saying the Lord’s Prayer to sharpen your vision of how to live Easter hope each day.
flickr photo by Jordon Cooper used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

No comments: