Saint Mary of the Angels homilies and reflections

Homily, Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, Fr. Ken Hughes, SJ
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St, Mary of the Angels     Easter Sunday  C   3/31/13

Acts 10.34a, 37-43;  Colossians 3.1-4;  John 20.1-9

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

We human beings are all seekers of signs. 

In times of uncertainty we seek signs of clarity. 

In times of sickness, we seek signs of recovery.

In times of discouragement, we seek signs of hope.

 

We seek signs that what we fear will not happen.

We seek signs that crises, whether of our health, or family members, or some project will turn out alright.

We seek signs of being accepted and appreciated,

We seek signs of being wanted and loved.

 

At this time of year, especially, after such a long and arduous winter, we seek signs of Spring: the first crocuses and daffodils, yellow forsythia, budding trees, the bloom of dogwoods.  We seek these signs and welcome them.

 

And this Lent, with the recent election of Pope Francis, we have been seeking signs of renewal and reform.  Already we have seen encouraging signs: the disappearance of red shoes and cape, his chosen name, “Francis,” his asking the people for their blessing and praying their familiar prayers: the Our Father and Hail Mary, celebrating Holy Thursday in prison and washing the feet of non-Christians as well as Catholics, the feet of women as well as men.  His few words have been signs too: words of humility, simplicity, justice, the call to be a Church poor and for the poor.  Do these signs not give us hope?  As one Cardinal commented, “During these days we have felt the wind of Pentecost shake our souls.” 

 

After his crucifixion and death, Jesus’ disciples sought signs too. How eagerly they embraced the sign of the empty tomb!  It was so important that all four Gospels mention it.  The stone has been rolled back; the tomb is empty.  What might that be a sign of?  Could this be a sign of his resurrection?

 

Then another sign appears: the rolled up face veil. 

 

Peter sees the face veil but misses the sign.  The Beloved Disciple sees the face veil as a sign and believes.  For, this face veil hearkens back to the face veil which Moses wore, when his face was so radiant after talking with God face to face.  The beloved disciple sees the neatly folded face veil as a sign that Jesus must  now be face to face with his Father.

 

Soon, there will be other signs: 

 

Mary Magdalene called by name,

a burning feeling in the hearts of two disciples on the road to Emmaus,

a huge catch of fish in the Lake of Galilee,

a sudden presence in an enclosed room. 

 

These were the signs of Jesus’ resurrection for the disciples then.  What are the signs of Jesus’ resurrection here today? 

 

For that answer, we have to turn to the signs which Jesus gave to John’s disciples when they asked Jesus if He were the Messiah.  Jesus replied, “Go and tell John what you see and hear:  the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news preached to them.”  These were the signs of the reign of God begun in Jesus.  And these are the same signs of Jesus’ resurrected presence through the Spirit in the Christian community today.

 

You who teach our Christian faith to children are helping the blind to see.

You who encourage abused women and people crippled with loneliness, doubt and fear, are helping the lame to walk. 

You who minister to drug addicts and AIDS’ victims are helping to cleanse lepers.

You who are counselors and therapists for the depressed and despairing are bringing the dead to life.    

You who care for the homeless, the shut-ins, the imprisoned, are preaching good news to the poor.

 

The resurrected Jesus appears in all who are the poor, physically, psychologically, spiritually, and the resurrected Jesus appears in all who serve these poor.

 

Poet, John Masefield, wrote of Jesus after the resurrection, as being “loose in the world,” and poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins added that Jesus, “plays in ten thousand places, / Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his …” 

 

St. Peter, today, urges us to be witnesses to that presence: witnesses to Jesus presence in all who need help and witnesses by our own joyful service.  Jesus resurrected is everywhere and in everyone.

 

 I think that the Prayer of St. Patrick expresses this presence of the risen Lord well:

 

“Christ with me. Christ before me.

     Christ behind me.

Christ in me. Christ beneath me.

     Christ above me.

Christ on my right, Christ on my left.

     Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit.

          Christ when I stand.

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me.

Christ in the mouth of all who speak of me.

     Christ in every eye that sees me.

     Christ in every ear that hears me.

 

As we move into this beautiful season of Easter, may we be more aware of Christ, our risen Lord, present everywhere and give witness to his presence with greater reverence, care and love of one another.

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