Father George Homily Inspirational

Welcome Happy Morning

Sunday of the Resurrection (RCL Cycle B)

31 March 2024

Happy Easter!

Today is Easter! To be correct, today is the Sunday of our Lord’s Resurrection. Today we begin a Fifty-day celebration that will come to its culmination in the Feast of Pentecost when the Church celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is a season of unbounded joy – different from the more somber joy of Great Lent.

Today, however, we begin our celebration by listening to Mary Magdalene’s story. John tells us that early on Sunday morning Mary goes to the tomb alone. She finds the stone rolled away and Jesus’ body is missing. Fearing the worst, she runs to the house where Peter and John are staying and tells them what she has seen. They run to the tomb and finding it empty they go back home.

Mary is racked with grief – remember, she was at the foot of the cross as Jesus died. She heard his last words and watched him breathe his last. She stays at the tomb, weeping uncontrollably. Two angels appear and ask her why she is weeping. She tells them and then turns away and runs headlong into someone she presumes to be the gardener (remember Jesus’ resting place was a borrowed tomb). He asks her why she is weeping; her response is completely normal and asks the stranger to tell her where he has placed Jesus’ body. (When Jesus first asks, “Woman, why are you weeping?” This is not disrespect or denigration,

Jesus is addressing her in the accustomed Jewish practice. At a Bar Mitzvot, the young man says to his mother, “Woman, today, I am a man;” meaning today I take my place in the community.) Mary responds still thinking that she is speaking with the gardener.

Then, Jesus rocks her world (and ours) with one simple word – “Mary.” Simply saying her name instantly snaps her out of her inconsolable grief. The light of the resurrection suddenly pours into her soul – she shouts “Rebbe” and hugs him. Her sorrow is replaced by unbounded joy.

The Resurrection is the foundation of Christian belief. But what is the Resurrection? It cannot be intellectually proved. There were no witnesses to the event itself — just the empty tomb. And Jesus did not provide further explanation when he appeared after the fact to his disciples. So, what exactly happened on that morning in Jerusalem?

Martin Bell, in The Way of the Wolf: The Gospel in New Images (N. Y.: The Seabury Press, 1968), explains this momentous event in this way: “What happened then wasn’t so remarkable, really. God simply raised Jesus from the dead. He merely walked into the tomb that we call insignificance and absurdity, and meaninglessness, and other such names as that — he merely walked into this tomb and raised Jesus from the dead.”

Bishop John Shelby Spong concludes in Resurrection: Myth or Reality? (Harper; San Francisco, 1994) that the moment of Resurrection “was beyond time and space and, therefore, beyond the capacity of our language to capture or our minds to understand. One has only to stand before that transcendent moment … and there utter only a simple yes or no. If we say ‘yes,’ then it is our task to live into the power of the Resurrection in our lives.”

In his poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” (The Country of Marriage; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1973), Wendell Berry describes our culture as consumed with material concerns. But there is more to life than worldly desires, and he goes on to offer more gratifying experiences based on simple pleasures: “Love the Lord. Love the world. … Ask the questions that have no answers. … Laugh. … Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. … Lie easy in the shade.”

In the final lines he advises: “Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.” We will make mistakes along the way and stray from the path like the fox. But ultimately transformation will come if we let go of the unnecessary things in our lives so that we can be open to what is new, unexpected, mysterious, and miraculous. Resurrection is not only an event in the life of Jesus that brings the promise of eternity; it is also, for us, a way of experiencing life to the fullest in everyday reality here and now.

Happy Easter!


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