by Fr. Tommy Lane
Happy Easter! There is breaking news! Jesus has risen from the dead! We hear all sorts of news every day but there is one news item more important than all others – Jesus' resurrection - and yet we do not hear much about Jesus’ resurrection in the news bulletins. We have studied history and there are various different interpretations of history but like news bulletins most of them miss the most important event of history, Jesus’ resurrection. But Jesus’ resurrection is the breaking news.
When there is big news you hear about it for a few days or more. But because Jesus’ resurrection is such big news, we celebrate it in a particular way for the next fifty days during the entire Easter Season. We spend the next seven weeks unraveling the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection for our lives and the Church. We see Jesus’ resurrection symbolized by the Paschal Candle lit during every Mass throughout these next fifty days until Pentecost. It was first lit last night during the Easter Vigil symbolizing Jesus’ resurrection. During every Mass until Pentecost we will read a portion of the Acts of the Apostles which shows us the effects of Jesus’ resurrection spreading out as the Church grows and grows and spreads and spreads. When you throw a stone into a pond, the ripples from the impact spread out and out, and during the next seven weeks we will see the impact of Jesus’ resurrection spreading out more and more as we listen to excerpts of the Acts of the Apostles every day. In today’s selection (Acts 10:34a, 37-43) we heard Peter witnessing that he ate and drank with Jesus after he rose from the dead.
What really matters in life? Having Jesus in your life is what is most important. Peter said in the selection we heard today from Acts that Jesus is the judge of the living and dead (Acts 10:42). So really, nothing else matters but Jesus. We see same point in our second reading (Col 3:1-4) advising us to seek what is above where Christ is seated. We hear many proposals about life, many suggestions about how to live and conduct our lives. There are many ideologies all around us. Even in the early Church there were ideologies. We see one lingering ideology in Paul’s letters as Paul had to convince people that circumcision is no longer necessary for salvation because of Jesus, There is one answer to how we are to live our lives. There is one clear light shining in the darkness and that is the light of Jesus whose Paschal Candle lit up the darkness in this church last night. There are partial answers all around, and many false and misleading answers, but there is only one answer that is the Truth, and that is Jesus and his resurrection proves it. Jesus is the only one who has risen. He is the only one with true answers to our questions about life and the meaning of life and how to live.
Since no one else has risen, Jesus’ words are the most important words of all time in the whole world. So anyone looking for answers to questions about life and the meaning of life and what to do with one’s life ought to look to Jesus’ words for the answer. The entire Bible is the word of God, but the four Gospels contain the words of Jesus which is why we give the Gospels special importance. There are no other words in the world like these words of the Gospels. I once heard someone say he would love to know what God thinks. There is a way to find out what God thinks. Read the words of Jesus. The words of Jesus come from his heavenly Father. The words of Jesus are the words of God. If you want to know what God thinks, you have no further to look than the Bible and especially the words of Jesus in the four Gospels.
Not only is Jesus’ resurrection the biggest breaking news of all time, news that we continue to celebrate specially for the next seven weeks of Easter, news that shows us we have to listen to Jesus for the truth if we are looking for answers to questions about life, but Jesus’ resurrection is only the beginning. Before his death, he was in Galilee but since his resurrection he is with us everywhere and in every time. The empty tomb in our Gospel today (John 20:1-9) tells us the body of Jesus was not there. Where was he? He appeared many times to his apostles and disciples during the next days. Those who come to daily Mass this week will enjoy a real treat as they listen to a different account of his resurrection every day. One of the things Jesus taught after his resurrection is that the place to look for him is at Mass. On the road to Emmaus he walked with the two disciples but they did not recognize him at first because his body was different after his resurrection. He explained the Scriptures to them and they recognized him at the breaking of bread. It was exactly what happens at every Mass. We listen to the Scriptures, they are explained to us, and we meet Jesus in the Eucharist. Not only does Jesus’ resurrection show that he is the true answer to all our questions, but the risen Jesus shows us that he continues to be present with us after his resurrection in the sacraments. If you want to meet Jesus, you can. Meet him in his sacraments. You became part of Jesus’ Church when you were baptized, he poured out the Holy Spirit on you once again when you were confirmed. He gave the apostles the authority to forgive sins. When you want forgiveness from Jesus you can go to confession to the priest and there you meet Jesus and he forgives you. When you are ill, the priest anoints you with sacred oil and you meet Jesus. Jesus blessed the wedding at Cana by his presence and blesses those married in the Sacrament of Marriage. Just as Jesus called twelve apostles out of all his disciples to be his first priests he continues to call men out of all his disciples now to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders and be his priests.
The breaking news of the empty tomb in our Gospel today tells us the body of Jesus was not there. Where is he? He is in the Church and still with you, and you can meet him every time you receive his sacraments and every time you read his words - the most important words of the whole world - in the Gospels. When you want answers, look to Jesus. Jesus is the only one who has risen. Listen to him.
© Fr. Tommy Lane 2016
More homilies for Easter Sunday Year
Christ is Risen! 2011
Related Homilies: excerpts of funeral homilies
belief in the resurrection (excerpt of funeral homily)
cloth over Jesus’ head, The Sudarium