"Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” Words from our Gospel this Easter morning from the 20th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.
If we can have our kiddos come down for the homily today. Come on up and sit around here.
Parties are fun occasions right? What are some things that we see at parties?
- Having Friends and Family come together (a constant)
- Special Decorations (themes)
- Dress up a little bit (nice outfit, birthday hats)
- Give each other gifts and cards (eggs, presents)
- Singing (Christmas songs, Easter Songs, Happy Birthday)
- Food and Drink are shared (Easter Basket, birthday cake with candles)
We come with family and friends to celebrate how special Jesus is to us
- We have decorations, flowers, banners, special dresses and outfits
- We hear passages from the Bible read to us, like God sending us a card
- We hear singing at the church
- We have food and drink, which might look like ordinary bread and wine, and we do have candles around it like a birthday cake, but it is even more special because it is God himself whom we receive in the Eucharist. It’s the best gift there is because this way we’ll never be alone.
- That Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!
When we come to Church it’s like coming to a party
And can someone remind me, what are we celebrating at our party at Church this morning?
And why is this so special and important, because we know that God can love us through anything. Death can’t stop him. Sin can’t stop him. So when you feel lonely and discouraged and upset, know that God can help you through it, that he wants you to have life and have it to the full. And that’s worth celebrating. Thanks for your helping me set the tone for my homily. Ok, I’m going to speak to everyone else now. You can go back to your seats
There is a Jewish saying as you gather with each other and raise your glasses for a toast, “La Heim,” to life, which you may have learned from the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. Today, we Christians gather in festivity to raise a glass with our own version of La Heim, to life, as we acclaim: “Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!” knowing that in his resurrection, God has opened up for us that path to life, that we may all have life and have to the full. We have hope. This is cause for rejoicing and gladness and for celebration. Josef Pieper once remarked that the human capacity for festivity arises from the ability to affirm all creation as good – from the ability to embrace, in one resounding “yes” the length and breadth, the heights and depths of our experience in this world. We can hear this yes in Mozart’s music. We can hear it in the delighted squeals of a child as its face is licked by the moist tongue and hot breath of a new puppy. We can even hear it in the contented, prayerful whispers of an elderly woman – full of love, grace, and year, as she prepares to meet death with quiet courage and dignity.
Saying yes to all of life, letting it all in – that is festivity’s sustaining source. But therein is also the rub. We live in an intensely mobile culture of fast food, faster cars, disposable diapers, and planned obsolescence. Few of us can say yes to anything for very long. At parties, we do not carry on conversations; we rather posture – repeating to one another snippets of dialogue from movies, beer commercials, sitcoms, social media posts or interviews with sports’ celebrities. We are connected but not connecting, isolated and lonely, incapable of forming meaningful relationships that last. Small wonder, too, that as a people we find ourselves increasingly bored, angry and tired – enraged and terrified by the awful emptiness that seems to stretch in every direction around us and pulls us into despair. Given such cultural conditions, the Christian celebration of Easter for fifty days of celebration will strike many as crazy. Fifty days of “dwelling in” the paschal mystery! Fifty days of surrendering in joyful faith and love as the Spirit of God takes possession of our lives! Fifty days of mystagogy, of unpacking the baptismal mysteries of his death and resurrection. What an order!
One reason why such a prolonged celebration strikes us as difficult – if not downright absurd – is that we tend to link feasts and holidays with mindless hoopla. “Party time,” for many, is an invitation to obliterate consciousness, to get wasted, to veg out, to forget. But a season of festival is precisely the opposite. It is a time of intentionality, intensified consciousness, finely tuned awareness, awakened memory. All are welcome to join us here to find ways to sustain their hope. The great fifty days until Pentecost are not an unwelcome, unrealistic, obligation to “party on,” even if we don’t feel like it, but an invitation to explore more deeply God’s presence and power in our lives and to appreciate more fully the gift of life itself as good and wholesome and full. In short, Easter is a season for learning how to continuously say yes to life in a culture that wants to keep on saying no. Why is that - because Christ is Risen; He is Risen Indeed!
Easter Sunday Readings: