Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter Sunday word, 05 Apr 15

“Wonderful in Our Eyes”
Easter Sunday B (05 Apr 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
appy Easter! With our greeting believing Christians abbreviate a conviction: This is the day the Lord has made. Out of the chaos of Holy Week, when God seemed to withdraw, God acted. Out of the chaos of Jesus’ passion and death, God did an absolutely new thing: God raised [Jesus] on the third day and granted that he be visibletowitnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. They were first; we, also, 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 find a clue in the cloth that had covered his head while Jesus’ body was in his tomb. Walk with me in the steps of Peter and John that morning.

Peter and John found a tomb empty of Jesus’ body. It held burial cloths strewn around save one. That one was the cloth that had covered the face and head of the dead Jesus. It was not with the others but rolled up in a separate place. It suggests three things for us to ponder: our relationship with death; new life; and our invitation. First: our relationship with death.

Jesus was raised, he was not resuscitated. Resuscitated people resume earthly living only to die. Jesus did not resume his earthly life. Jesus lives an absolutely new way. We say in glory to mean he shares God’s life and power. The cloth rolled up in a separate place hints at that creating, exalted life: distinct from other life yet always offered each per-son. Because we have already died and risen with Jesus in baptism we can live free—separate—from death’s frighten-ing, fearful control. Yes, our bodies will die; Easter-hope reminds us we are more than our bodies.

Second: new life. The cloth thatcovered Jesus’ head in the tomb was separate from the rest that had absorbed the smell and shape of death; it was also rolled up. It is easy to imagine what John and Peter saw: a jumble of yards of linen winding-sheets used for burials. Yet the cloth that had covered [Jesus’] head was rolled up. It has the feel of a deliberate act by risen Jesus: left as a clue of God’s deliberate power. God’s passion for life blesses each person who believes in risen Jesus with the same new life, fresh vigor and sweet aroma. We name it our share now in the life to come.

Last: our invitation. Divine life within and around us often escapes our notice. The word in the gospel translated as bent down and saw suggests careful, curious inspection.1 The burial cloths could have hidden from a casual glance the rolled up cloth. Peter saw it because he went into the tomb. The lesson for us? Look within ourselves. Our careful, curious attention lets us notice our triune God at work for us.

God at work for us stretches us and offers our Christian personalities a smooth, inviting texture so important for mission. The rolled up cloth is our invitation to mission. When we notice God in Jesus by their Spirit working in us and for us we unroll for ourselves the creative life of the Trinity. As we unroll and notice we let ourselves be absorbed in their creative power—not for ourselves; Christians and Christian communities don’t exist separately or for themselves. We unroll, open, appreciate our new life in our Messiah Jesus to offer it freely to the world.

Easter and its hope and vision of Jesus alive for ever free us to appreciate ourselves, others, the entire universe in new ways; and to serve Jesus’ mission as ours.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesu this week
  • Calm yourself to rest in the presence of our triune God.
  • Ask Mary of Magdala, Peter and John to present you to our risen Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; tell him your fears, resentments, any discouragement or energies which discourage others. Focus on one; offer it to Jesus so he may take it from you, roll it up and free you of it.
  • Resolve to reach no more for what you offered Jesus and ask him for grace to keep you free from it.
  • Close saying slowing the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his prayer to sharpen our vision and make it like his: to see all created things as wonderful in our eyes; and have hearts like his that beat with faithful, disinterested love.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Thayer’s lexicon entry

Wiki-images: Peter and John run to the sepulchre PD-US “He Is Not Here” © Walter Rane, LDS Church, available

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