Easter Sunday1 A (24 Apr 2011)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
A rumor has it that the Resurrection is more about Jesus than about you and me. Like many rumors it is false. Like many rumors that one twists truth. Yes, Jesus died it’s true, but unlike others, when Jesus rose he was not resuscitated from near-death to die again. Resurrection means Jesus lives now in an absolutely new and more powerful way for you and for me. Resurrection is about all humans.
Resurrection has come to mean something hard to understand instead of energy and power for personal transformation as well as authority and boldness for announcing the good news of Messiah Jesus’ death and resurrection.1 The first Christians, though, used those words to describe their experience of the resurrection for them. Resurrection meant Jesus had become more powerful for them after his death than before it, which is opposite to how we humanly think, isn’t it? That is one clue that resurrection is about us more than it is about Jesus.
Another rumor has it that the day we celebrate the resurrection more people go to church than other days. Like some rumors that may be true. Yet when we begin to appreciate resurrection is more for us, others will make that rumor false. When will that happen? As people, like today’s new Catholics, have and hold energy and power for personal transformation as well as authority and boldness for announcing the good news of Messiah Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The newly initiated Catholics, like the first disciples who came to the tomb of Jesus; like those who became a fresh batch of dough in St. Paul’s words, received the Holy Spirit as St. Peter reminded us: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. When Peter and Paul lived resurrection was still a scandal: a scandal for those who thought God would never raise a crucified messiah2; and a scandal for those who put their faith in philosophy, military, political or other powers. Holy Spirit is the language for God’s personal power.
As time went by and as people believed, resurrection lost its scandalous power. The loss of its scandalous power left more believers thinking resurrection was more about Jesus than about them. Holy Spirit equals God’s power to create what humans cannot. Holy Spirit equals God’s power to create life in a virgin’s womb. Holy Spirit equals God’s power to create life from death: to create life in a lifeless womb or to allow an old Abraham and Sarah give birth to an infant Isaac. Holy Spirit raised Jesus from death. God’s power made Jesus more significant and powerful after his death.
Even more surprising, Holy Spirit equals God’s power to help burdened bodies and minds discover God is giving life to us here and now when we think God is not present or cannot be present. Holy Spirit equals God’s power to give us courage to join together and notice how we are being made new in the face of so much violence, hatred, greed, cynical thinking, false accusing, desperate measures and brittle relationships.
Our joining here taps into God’s power. Each liturgical celebration3 gives us a privileged moment to be Mary Magdalene, to be the other Mary or to be one of Jesus’ disciples and to stand in Jerusalem and go to Galilee and meet him in new and surprising ways. We do this each Sunday because Jesus’ resurrection includes us.4
So spread the truth that resurrection transforms our lives, that it is about us because Messiah Jesus gives us energy and power, authority and boldness the world cannot. Spread as well the truth that we do this not one Sunday but every Sunday. Sunday after Sunday of celebrating the resurrection is how we grow to live the energy and power our Messiah Jesus give us on the day the Lord has made, promising, I am risen, and I am always with you, alleluia.
- These words appear numerous through the New Testament.
- God's curse rests on him who hangs on a tree (Deuteronomy 21.23) was cited as scriptural proof.
- Joseph Tawil, Eparch Emeritus of Newton, in his Introduction to the Theology of the Divine Office, where he cites Maximos the Confessor. “Since the resurrection...God has revealed Himself in a liturgical way.” The way of knowledge and and that of love go hand and hand.” He also quoted a pope: "in order for the faithful to become imbued with the truths of faith," said Pope Pius XI, “the annual solemnities of the liturgical feasts are far more efficacious than all the documents of the Church's magisterium, even the most important. If the latter are particularly addressed to the intellect, the former have their salutary influence on the heart, then the intellect and then the whole man…” (Enc. Quas Primas). A Protestant was more concise: “Human life has no meaning, except liturgically,” said the Protestant J.J. Von Allmer, “and not just human life, but the life of everything created.”
- “We celebrate Sunday because of the venerable Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we do so not only at Easter but also at each turning of the week.” The Day of the Lord, 19.