Monday, April 21, 2014

Reality Changes Everything

He Is Risen As He Said, Alleluia.
Readings for April 20/ Easter Sunday:
Acts 10:34, 37-43
Psalm 118:2, 16-17, 22-23
1 Corinthians 5:6-8
John 20:1-9


What great to be able to say those blessed words. For over 40 days we have been journeying with the Lord Jesus in the desert. We have fasted and abstained, prayed more intensely, offered sacrifices and mortifications. For weeks have had heeded more purposely the call to conversion of our hearts by becoming aware of our sins and need for the grace of the Lord. And today we have the fulfillment of all of that work in the glory of the Resurrection. Today Jesus destroys death and sin, He conquers everything that is not Godly, and He has arisen. He is alive. The question that we ought to pause to reflect upon today is this: Do we really believe this? 

My dear friends, the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead changes everything.

Often in our culture today we hear people talk about the Resurrection like it's just another ancient mythical story to try to make sense of this life, but the thing is that while in all of the other ancient religious cultures those stories were written but understood to be false, the story of Jesus is written and understood by to be absolutely true. It's not a story to make us feel good. It's not a new rendition of an older tale. It is something entirely different and entirely new. The Gospel accounts don't believe with "Once upon a time..." or "In a galaxy far, far away...." They begin with names, dates, place, specifics that can be verified. We can go there today and see the place where Jesus was born, the place He healed specific individuals, the place where He ate the Last Supper, the place where He died on the Cross. The writings of the New Testament are not just a bunch of guys that wrote a really powerful story. They describe themselves as witnesses. St. John in his first letter begins by saying, "What we have seen, what we have heard, what we have touched with our own hands..." to describe his relationship with the Lord Jesus.

St. Paul Miki & Japanese Martyrs
I guess we could be even more blunt and say simply that people don't suffer and die for fairytales and myths. Nobody is offering their back to be beaten on account of Cinderella, the Roman God Zeus, or some other ancient deity. But for the Lord Jesus they continue to do it even down to today. In my estimation St. Paul gives us one of the most powerful testimonies in the Second Letter to the Corinthians when he recounts his list of sufferings: 5 times he received 39 lashes, 3 times he was beaten with rods, he was stoned on one occasion, shipwrecked thrice, left alone a day and a night on the sea, endured persecution from Jews and Gentiles both, and endured hunger, pain, toil, cold, sleeplessness, and homelessness all for the sake of spreading the Gospel. You don't do that for a story that isn't true. 

The story of Easter Sunday isn't just for us to come and feel good for a few hours today, eat some chocolate, and enjoy whatever activities we partake in this afternoon. It is a call to conversion and to turn definitely away from sin, death, and anything which separates us from Jesus Christ. It is a call to allow the joy of the Resurrection to be something that pervades every moment of the day. It is a call to let Jesus Christ be the true focus in the midst of all that we do; not to let Him be a piece of the pie of our life but to be the crust on which everything else is built. It is a call to call to let this moment be stretched into eternity, to live Easter joy every day and to share that with the world just like the Apostles. Christ is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia! Do we really believe?