Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday word, 12 Apr 2009

Easter Sunday1 (12 Apr 2009)
Ac 10.34a, 37-43; Ps 118; 1Co 5:6b-8; Mk 16.1-7
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Making No Mistake
Happy Easter! Is anyone here by mistake? Are you sure? Are you here by mistake? Are you? I give you fair warning because I used to think the focus of today was Jesus, our dead and risen Messiah. Jesus’ resurrection is not a preacher’s focus only today. Jesus’ resurrection empowers all preachers to witness to the one event that reshapes the world as it reshapes people. That’s why I asked if any of us are here by mistake. Let me say first what the resurrection was not before we decide if any of us is here by mistake.

The resurrection was not a reappearance of Jesus as if Jesus never died. St. Paul was emphatic: Christ [Jesus] died!/1/ Nor was the resurrection resuscitation. Scripture mentions several resuscitations, like Lazarus, who was brought back to life by Jesus and lived his old life until he died again./2/ Like the sons of widows the prophet Elijah/3/ and Jesus/4/ restored to their mothers. Their mothers were happy but no world shaking thing happened beyond that. The resurrection, however, shook the world. It scandalized many, who looked at things in only human ways. It shattered the thoughts of the disciples of Jesus before it reshaped them.

The disciples: they remind me to ask again, “Is anyone here by mistake, thinking the resurrection focuses on Jesus?” Are you ready for the truth? The resurrection was not so much about Jesus as it was about his disciples. When my teacher said that long ago, I listened, puzzled and wanting to listen. The resurrection was less about the future of Jesus and more about the future of his disciples. Scripture makes that clear. Recall St. Paul: nearly each time he pronounced that our Messiah Jesus died, Paul followed it with for us. Likewise his resurrection was for his disciples, and it is for us, his disciples today.

In the beginning the first disciples were distraught. Human living and dying were categories they could not change by their power, why Jesus’ resurrection was unthinkable. Opponents and scoffers of what they experienced were straitjacketed by the same categories, too. What was the difference?

If you are here by mistake, then you may be shocked to know the difference was this: the disciples opened themselves to allow God to transform, refashion, reshape, recreate, reconfigure their lives whole and entire. They named the symbol of this recreation Holy Spirit. Spirit because it was personal power. Holy indicated that was a power not of human origin or human control.

Today the scandal of the resurrection doesn’t exist. The resurrection no longer shocks us. The resurrection no longer moves us the way it moved the first disciples to proclaim the utterly new thing God does in Jesus for us. What if we allowed the resurrection to grip us down to the marrow of our bones and propel us into the world to help it refashion itself as we have been refashioned, reshaped, recreated and configured anew to our Messiah? We would be the world’s leaven.

We are its leaven. Like yeast gives its life to leaven dough and give birth to a loaf, the resurrection empowers our lives to transform the world with sincerity and truth. That’s why the resurrection is more about us because Jesus died and rose for us to transform the world.

Each of us is a resurrection, a personification of Jesus for the world, partial to be sure but really a resurrection by baptism. We are empowered by his Holy Spirit to do things we cannot imagine for the sake of the world and the glory of God.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week feel recreated by the life of our triune God. Ask Mary of Magdala, the first apostle of the resurrection, to ready your heart to grow more certain that Jesus loves you as if you are the only person on the planet. Allow Jesus to enter the garden of your life as it is: dry or moist; weedy or flowery; barren or lush; with young fruit or old, gnarled stems. Converse with Jesus: tell him your desire to be fresh leaven in your home, in your school, in your neighborhood, in your parish, in your world; ask Jesus for the courage to live as his disciple. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which is about God reshaping us with power not from us but filling us daily with its new life both human and divine.

1. See the correspondence of Paul, beginning with his Letter to the Romans.
2. John 11.1-45.
3. 1Kings 17.17-24.
4. Luke 7.11-16.
Wiki-image of Mary of Magdala and the risen Jesus is in the public domain. Wiki-image by Tau Ľolunga of a flowering apostle plant is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 license.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul, Happy Easter! I appreciated today's homily. It really brought home a tension in the Gospels which I've not yet resolved for myself; that is that, as you write, Jesus died "for us," yet I also find much resonance with St John the Baptist's "I must decrease so that He might increase." There seems to be a dialectic of "it's all about me," and "I'm a mere pawn in God's grand scheme." Ain't Christianity a blast!