Acts 10: 34, 37-43; Col3: 1-4/1Cor 5:6-8; Jn 20:1-9
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
Homily for Easter Sunday
By Fr Munachi Ezeogu, cssp
Halleluiah, Praise the Lord!
Acts 10:34, 38-42
A certain kindergarten teacher was telling her students the story of Jesus. In her class was a little boy who came from a non-Christian family. He was paying very close attention to the story because it was all new to him. As the teacher told how Jesus was condemned and nailed to the cross to die the boy’s countenance fell and he murmured, “No! That’s too bad!” The teacher then went on to tell how on the third day Jesus rose from the dead and came back to life. The boy’s eyes lit up with delight and he exclaimed, “Totally awesome!” On Good Friday we heard the story of the suffering and death of Jesus. Like the little boy many of us felt like “No! That’s too bad!” Today we hear the rest of the story and again with the little boy we can now exclaim “Yes! Totally awesome!” Today we can again sing “Halleluiah” that we have not sung all through Lent. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad (Psalm 118:24).
Why do we rejoice today? We rejoice because our faith in Christ has been vindicated, truth has triumphed over falsity, justice over injustice and tragedy has turned into comedy. It is like watching one of the episodes of Batman. First you see an innocent and helpless victim being attacked, robbed, kidnapped, assaulted and tortured by a wicked assailant. And we feel so bad seeing the triumph of the bad guy. Then, almost at the point where the victim has given up hope and is at the point of death, down from the skies comes Batman to the rescue. He battles and defeats the bad guy and rescues the innocent victim. And we feel happy inside at the triumph of justice.
The story of the suffering and death of Jesus on Good Friday is the story of the triumph of falsity over truth, of injustice over justice, of evil over goodness. Jesus was falsely charged of crimes he did not commit, and unjustly sentenced to a death he did not deserve. His good friend betrayed him, his trusted companions deserted him and his number one man denied him. The people he loved demanded his crucifixion and chose to have the bandit Barabbas released in his place. It is a story of betrayal and lies, dishonesty and meanness, unfaithfulness and wicked violence directed against an innocent and apparently helpless victim. All this comes to a head on Good Friday when we see Jesus scourged, mocked, led on the death march, nailed to the cross where he dies after a few hours and hastily buried in a tomb. If that were the end of the story that would be a bad story, a tragedy. But glory be to God it is not.
Death is not the end of the story. There is one more chapter. This is the most important chapter because, as the saying goes, they who laugh last laugh best. And in the last chapter of the story of Jesus we see him rise from the dead in all glory and majesty. He is vindicated. His enemies are shamed and confused. Jesus regains his eternal glory with the Father. He is the Lord who will prevail over all humankind, his enemies included. For us his embattled followers this is good news.
It is good news to know that truth is immortal. We can suppress Truth, accuse it of being a lie, condemn it, torture it, kill it, bury it in the grave but on the third day Truth will rise again. Remember this and do not give up on Truth even when everybody seems to give up on it. Do not give up on Truth; do not give up on Justice. Do not give up on doing what is right. True will always be true. Just will always be just. Right will always be right even when the world around us would have it otherwise. We must learn to believe in the sun even when it is not shining, knowing that by and by it will shine again. It is the end of the story that counts. That is why the church asks us today to rejoice and be glad. Even when we are going through very difficult times: through betrayal, unjust discrimination, lies, misrepresentations; even when the enemy seems to be winning the battle in our lives. Today Christ has won. And we know that in Christ we shall overcome. Halleluiah, Praise the Lord!
‘Christ is the answer.’ What is the question?
By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD
April 10, 2009, 3:40pm
There’s a story about a man who visited a seminary. On the walls of the corridors and bulletin boards were various posters which read: “Christ is the answer.”
Wondering what it all meant, the puzzled visitor scribbled the following below one of those posters: “What is the question?”
* * *
If “Christ is the answer,” what is the question is he answering?
Easter answers the question: After suffering, what? It also answers such fundamental questions like: What’s the meaning of life? Is life meant to be nothing but a vain struggle for a modicum of joy and satisfaction terminated by death?
* * *
Jesus, by His resurrection, is showing us that life is not a meaningless puzzle. His resurrection is that big piece in life’s jigsaw puzzle that makes the whole picture make sense.
As St. Paul puts it, “If Christ has not risen, in vain is our preaching and your believing in it” (Read 1 Cor 15:13).
* * *
In other words, our faith in God, our prayers, our striving to do good would all be useless if Christ had not risen.
Because of this, there is no room for despair. There’s hope. Like Christ, if we go through life’s trials and strive to overcome them, then we will attain success and experience our own glorious resurrection.
* * *
Our hope should not be passive, however. That is, when we just wait for solutions to our problems like doleouts or government handouts when we have the capacity to help ourselves.
What’s needed is an active hope which seeks to work for lasting solutions to problems, to be resourceful and enterprising.
* * *
For instance, this year’s bar topnotcher, Judy Lardizabal, hoped to become a full-fledged lawyer by passing the bar exam. But all along she had reservations even if she is a bright student because of financial difficulty, coming from a low-income family. Her mother runs a small store and her father is a tricycle driver.
* * *
But she did not wallow in self-pity and gave up. Instead, she became a working student as technical assistant at the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to support her schooling.
Through a lot of hard work and prayers which she constantly poured out at St. Joseph Parish Church along Aurora Boulevard, the talented, doubting Judy made it — beyond her wildest imagination.
* * *
We live in difficult times. There are lay-offs from work, slowdown in business due to the global financial crisis. Sufferings are not only financial but physical like sickness or emotional and psychological like abandoned children.
But no matter how tough the times may be, there’s always HOPE. And this is the timely message of the Resurrection of Christ.
A HOPEFUL EASTER TO ALL!
By Fr. Jerry Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:28:00 04/11/2009
MANILA, Philippines – The story is told about two shepherds leaning on their staffs at the end of a long, hard day.
The first shepherd asked his fellow shepherd: “How are you? How are you doing?”
The second shepherd sighed and shook his head: “Not good. I can’t pay my bills, my health isn’t good, my kids don’t respect me, and my wife is leaving me.”
The first shepherd replied: “That’s too bad, but don’t lose any sheep over it, OK?”
In today’s Gospel (Jn. 20, 1-9), we hear of Mary Magdalene running to Peter and John and telling them of the empty tomb. The days prior to that first Easter morning were long, hard days for the disciples. They were sad, afraid, disillusioned and even in doubt. Then suddenly, there was a breakthrough, and they began to understand, and believe. It was as if a streak of great light had penetrated the darkest and gloomiest corners of their hearts. Everything began to unfold, just as their Master and Lord had told them.
Where were the other disciples on that first Easter morning? On the night when Jesus was arrested at Gethsemane, a lot of His disciples fled and abandoned Him. Even Peter, who followed Him from a distance, denied Him. Except for John (who stayed on near the Blessed Mother) and Mary Magdalene (who braved the crowd out of gratitude for the Master who had forgiven her), all the rest had gone into safety and hiding. In our lowest and darkest moments, there will be few, very few people who will stay with us. Let this be a lesson for those who have others at their beck and call now. Real friends are few. Real followers, even fewer.
Speaking of friends, last Holy Tuesday, I went to a noodle house to have a meal. I had the whole restaurant all by myself! The privacy was short-lived. Three women entered and sat in a corner opposite mine. After sometime, two of them came over to my table and introduced themselves, with a request that I pray over their friend whose father died recently. I was so edified by their real care and concern for their grieving friend. All four of us prayed and experienced the presence of God and true friends in that noodle house. Yes, we are never really alone. The Risen Lord is always with us.
With the Resurrection, our departed relatives and friends are still united with us. They are never really gone. This is our belief in the communion of the saints. This gives us so much hope and consolation. Yes, death is not the end. We will meet our Lord and our departed relatives and friends again. That is the promise that is our hope in the Resurrection.
How you feel this Easter morning depends a lot on how you spent the Holy Week. If the Holy Week was just one big vacation, then not much has changed, and life goes on pretty much the same. In so far as we allow God to speak to us and mold us, we grow. May we all learn to be more obedient and more docile. More and more, may our prayer be: “Thy will be done, Lord.”
Fresh start. New beginnings. Yes, it is never too late to start again. Let each one of us make the promise, the hope and the joy of the Resurrection a reality in our lives. On the personal level, are there bad habits we need to put to death? Are there relationships we need to mend? Are there responsibilities we should face? Are there duties we need to accomplish? Are there new horizons we need to explore? Let us all be living witnesses to Christ’s Resurrection.
Praying that someday soon, a real Easter morning will break forth in our beloved country, the Philippines. Right now a cloud of darkness hovers over the whole country, compliments of our government officials and leaders who have corrupted not only individuals but even the very foundations of our society, and have put in place a culture of corruption, cheating, lying and transactional politics. Darkness will not be forever, that’s for sure. Light will be victorious in the end. It’s just a matter of time, and a matter of hard work for all of us who belong to the light.
About this time next year, barring unforeseen events, the whole country will be on election mode. Aside from vigilance, let us be united in our efforts to put in leaders who will really make a difference. I really don’t know how, or whether it is still possible to bring God into our elections. But then, there is nothing impossible with God. What I know is that we cannot afford to be apathetic and uninvolved anymore, otherwise, the powers of darkness will lord it over us again.
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, break through us so that, together, we can make a breakthrough in this world. Amen.
April 11, 2009, 9:35pm
Jesus is alive! Alleluia! The Paschal Mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ comes to fruition today with the celebration of His Resurrection. The glory of God is shown in the Resurrection of Jesus on the third day after His crucifixion on Mount Calvary.
Our mourning has been turned into rejoicing. The darkness has been conquered by the light. The scars on his body have been turned into stars of victory over sin and death. This is the greatest feast in Christianity – Jesus lives on and will forever reign in our hearts!
The resurrection should be seen in the context of the life and ministry of Jesus. The disciples believed that through the resurrection, God had vindicated Jesus. God favored his Son for being faithful to his mission of proclaiming the Good News to all.
We prepared for this great season for 40 days with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. All these were intended to break us from our worldly attachments and focus on the most important things in our life – things that will nourish our relationship with the Lord and with one another. Unless we let go of our selfish desires, we will never experience the tremendous power of God over us.
We will only share in the Easter joy if we truly respond to his offer of life and love. Like Jesus, we shall be glorified if we become faithful to the mission God has entrusted to each one of us – a mission of bringing the Good News to all.
In a world filled with darkness, we are called to bring the Good News of hope to our society today. Easter is a celebration of hope. We are a people of the Resurrection. As we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we are called to be strong and not anymore be defeated by humanity’s selfishness and greed. We must breathe life into our seemingly hopeless world. We are also called to enhance and nurture all of creation so as to serve the needs of all.
May the Easter joy prod us to live a life pleasing to God.
By FR. ROLANDO V. DE LA ROSA, OP
April 11, 2009, 10:28pm
Most of us make it a point to go to church during Holy Week. Our religiosity peaks during those important days. Families make the Way of the Cross and Visita Iglesia. We listen to preachers sharing their insights on the Siete Palabras. Devotees read non-stop the traditional Pasion. The number of penitents waiting to get into the confessional box is a sight to behold. Some of us perform extraordinary devotional penances like flagellation and carrying of the cross while walking barefoot on burning asphalt streets.
Many foreign observers criticize this show of religiosity as focused on guilt, sin, suffering and death. It is because most of them come only to witness gory spectacles (like the crucifixion of men and women in San Fernando, Pampanga) and other esoteric Holy Week practices unique in our country. Yes, they see us unashamedly exhibiting our religiosity during Holy Week. But they see only half of the picture.
For us, Christianity is also joy, renewal, healing, and resurrection. We also manifest our robust religiosity during Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ birth; on Easter, the commemoration of our rebirth, and whenever we feel God’s grace helping us triumph over pain and misery. We do not look at ourselves only as Juan de la Cruz. We see ourselves also as Easter people redeemed by Jesus who conquered death through suffering.
Like all Christians, we Filipinos struggle to avoid two extreme forms of Christianity: one that preaches a cross-less Christ, and one that adores a Christ-less cross. The first is a happy-go-lucky religion that is allergic to suffering. The second is focused on sin, and sees God as a stern judge whom we must appease with sacrifices to avoid punishment. During Holy Week, Filipinos of the first type usually take a trip abroad, or flock to beaches and hotels to revel in an orgy of eating, partying, swimming, drinking and Easter egg hunting. Those of the second type go on a guilt trip and pay for it with their self-inflicted suffering and self-denial.
I am convinced that majority of us practice authentic Christianity that sees both Jesus and the Cross as inseparable. Many Filipinos believe that without Jesus, penance and suffering are meaningless. And without the Cross, Jesus is just the God of foreign televangelists and their local copycats who preach a gospel of success and prosperity, pleasure without pain, sunshine without rain.
I am happy to be a Filipino brought up in a religious tradition that considers life as a rhythm of cross and crown, suffering and glory. I believe that in life, joy lies cheek to cheek with the deepest sorrow; for we cannot appreciate one without experiencing the other.
Victory has many fathers
By Former Senator RENE ESPINA
April 11, 2009, 10:21pm
As we commemorate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we cannot ignore the weaknesses and strengths of human beings. Let me quote portions of the holy bible: “The final six days of our Lord’s earthly life, from Palm Sunday to His death on Good Friday are at once the most tragic and the most glorious period of His life.”
The tragedy is evident in the treachery of Judas and in the cruelty of the vacillating Jews who on Palm Sunday, as He rode into Jerusalem, called “Hosanna,” and five days later in the courtyard of Pilate shouted “Crucify Him.” But even amid the tragedies of Holy Week, Christ was victorious. His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Sunday, His driving away the money changers from the temple on Monday, His long discourse with the Jewish leaders on Tuesday, during which they presented him with the coin of tribute to trap into disloyalty to Caesar were all victories for Jesus… but victories which intensified the anger of His enemies and strengthened their resolve to eliminate Him.
On Thursday night, at the Last Supper, Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist…the Sacrament in which He is really present under the appearances of bread and wine; and the Sacrifice, in which His redeeming death is renewed daily for the benefit of all.
This Sacrament and this Sacrifice are still the sources of strength by which modern Christians come forth victorious from combat with the enemies of their souls.
Even Christ’s cruel execution on the cross on Good Friday between two thieves was a great victory over the powers of darkness for by the infinite merits of His redeeming death Christ atoned for the numberless sins of all men, earned all the graces that men would need until the end of time, and established His Church through which He wished to dispense His graces to all men.
In the above events, in my mind the victory attained by our Lord was not only His but also of all humanity against all evil because of the love and limitless mercy of our Lord; who fulfilled a prophecy on the redemption of man by the Messiah.
Yet as the events unfolded during the Holy week, one can readily see the human weaknesses that men suffer from…when on Palm Sunday Jerusalem welcomed Him in victory as a Messianic Hero; and everyone wanted to be part of and participate in that victory which is clearly what is expected of human beings.
However, four days later, after our Lord’s capture, the shouts of the mob was “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” Here we validate the saying that “Victory(success) has many fathers,” (or at least people which claimed to have had a hand in it) and defeat (failure) is an orphan.” So the change on the crowd’s attitude between Palm Sunday and during the trial by the Roman Governor Pilate.
Furthermore the treachery committed by a disciple for thirty pieces of silver… the intrigue by the Jewish leaders in baiting Christ to offend Caesar which prompted a reply from our Savior: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
The orchestrated events by the enemies of our Lord was motivated undoubtedly by the greed for power, privilege and gold. So it is not strange that today we see some of those who wield temporal power, do acts and make judgments that are reminiscent of what the Jewish leaders did 1,976 years ago. After all we are merely imperfect human beings who at times succumb to the temptation of committing sins. We hope and pray for the redemption of humanity and the forgiveness of our sins! Happy Easter!
The mission of spreading the Good News
April 13, 2009, 6:42pm
The Easter celebration forms the very heart of Christianity for the Christian faith is deeply rooted and finds its real meaning in the resurrection of Jesus.
As St. Paul said in a letter he wrote to the Christians in Corinth: “But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. That, if Christ is not risen, then all our believing is in vain.’’ (1 Cor. 15:12-14).
It was their belief in the resurrection of Jesus which transformed His sad and despairing followers into people radiant with joy and courage. Because they firmly believed that He had triumphed over death. His disciples, who were at first paralyzed with fear of being arrested as His accomplices, began boldly to proclaim that Jesus, who had died on the Cross, was alive and with them. When, they were arrested, persecuted, imprisoned, and put to death, it became a cause of rejoicing that they were now even more closely related to the life experience of their Lord, sharing in His sufferings that they might share in His glory.
It is important, however, to be aware that the resurrection is not simply the resuscitation of the body of Jesus which died on the Cross. The crucifixion is a historical event; the resurrection is a faith event. His resurrection is first and foremost an entrance to a completely new way of living. He is not recognized at first by even his intimate friends. He is everywhere that His disciples happen to be and His new body, the means of His being visibly present among humanity, is the community of His disciples.
Easter is not only concerned with recalling the resurrection of Jesus or its impact on the first disciples but also with the meaning of this event for our own lives and for our faith. The celebration of Easter is a call for us to change – and perhaps change radically – as Jesus’ own disciples changed. The sign that we are truly sharing in the risen life of Jesus is that our lives become a good news to other people. We not only believe, we not only proclaim, but we do what we believe and do what we proclaim.
Easter reminds us that we have the same mission of evangelization as Peter and Mary Magdalene and the other disciples of Jesus. Their transformed lives clearly tell us what evangelization is all about: It is not just the handing on of doctrines but the sharing with others our experience of having seen the Lord in our lives and inviting them to have the same experience.
The empty egg
By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD
April 18, 2009, 10:12pm
Jeremy was born with a twisted body, and a slow mind. At the age of 12, he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises.
* * *
At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a ray of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.
One day she called his parents and asked them to come for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs to a ‘special’ school.
* * *
“It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems.”
Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke.
“Miss Miller,” he said, “There is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.”
* * *
Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the lawn outside the window. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness.
* * *
As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her.
“Here I am complaining, when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family,” she thought.
“Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.”
From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares.
* * *
Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter.
Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg.
“Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”
* * *
“Yes, Miss Miller,” the children responded enthusiastically, all except for Jeremy. Had he understood what she had said? The next morning, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said.
* * *
The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that’s new life, too.”
Then, Doris opened the third egg. She gasped. The egg was empty. She quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.
Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?”
* * *
Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy, your egg is empty.” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too.” Time stopped.
When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?”
“Oh, yes,” Jeremy said, “Jesus was buried there but the Father raised Him up.” The recess bell rang.
* * *
Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket –all of them empty.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B