Monday, April 21, 2014

He Is Risen, Alleluia!

I'd planned on posting some of the homilies from Holy Week while in Plymouth.  Alas, in the frenzy of packing for a 4:30 AM departure on Holy Thursday the charger for the computer remained in the wall.  I only had enough charge to work on the homilies for Friday and Sunday.  The poor night sleep on Wednesday did not help me remember some of the things that needed to be done before leaving.  

The homily below is from the 9:30 AM Mass on Easter Sunday at St. Mary's Church in Plymouth.  While the parish is All Saints, one cannot rename a church easily.  Some of the names that have been invented for combined parishes have been ludicrous.  But, I'll stay off that soapbox for now.  
Easter Sunday  

Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Ps 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Col 3:1-4
Jn 20:1-9

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”

These words of joy have been circling the globe and stirring the universe for hours. They began in Australia, moved to Taiwan and thence to Vietnam and the underground Churches of Mainland China.  They moved through Asia and from East to West in Europe before landing in the United States.  Our joyous words were repeated in Mandarin, Fujianese, Swahili, Portuguese, French, Chichiwa, and English, as the news of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was proclaimed yet again as we announced, the mystery and joy of the empty tomb.

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” 

The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles summarized Jesus’ life, beginning with His baptism and ending with His death on the cross.  We heard the commission to the apostles to preach the message of salvation.  It is the same commission we received, to preach the message of salvation through Jesus. That message is the reason we are to rejoice and be glad.  Jesus is the one set apart, and those who believe in him have  forgiveness of sins through His name.

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”

As St. Paul so memorably wrote in the Letter to the Romans:  “God showed his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”  While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.  Jesus, fully Divine and fully human, Son of God and Son of Mary, like us in all things but sin, died for our sins; because of our sins and to save us from those sins.  We are sinners.  But, we are sinners loved by God.  We are redeemed by Jesus’ passion and death in a redemption made manifest in His resurrection from the dead.  What more can we say than?

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” 

In the proclamation of John’s Gospel we heard of the disciple’s astonishment, confusion, sorrow, and fear upon discovering that the tomb in which Jesus had been placed was empty. The cloths with which his body had been wrapped were rolled up and lying off to the side.  The last line of this Gospel reading is the important:  “Remember, as yet they did not understand the Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.”  They did not yet understand.  Despite the years that they had followed Him the disciples did not really understand who this Jesus was.  But that was going to change  at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon them.

The apostle’s confusion and lack of understanding about Jesus mirrors our situation.  Despite Jesus’ action in our lives, we don’t always understand.  Unlike the apostles who lived the events recounted here in real time we have scripture and the tradition of the Church to instruct us, to help us understand.  Still, we don’t always get it.  We sometimes fail to understand how great a gift Jesus is to us.  We sometimes fail to appreciate the gift he gave us. Thus, it is today, and every day, we are called to pray, to meditate on scripture and to receive the Body and Blood of Christ so that unlike the apostles, we will understand, we will see, we will believe.

Last night, we gathered in the parking lot to bless the new fire and to light this paschal candle.  The words repeated while inscribing the paschal candle explain everything.

“Christ yesterday and today the beginning and the end.  Alpha and Omega; all time belongs to him, and all the ages; to him be glory and power, through every age for ever.” 

“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.”

On Holy Thursday the church was simply decorated.  The chairs were for the washing of feet ritual (some strong opinions on that too).  

The oils were blessed by the bishop at the Chrism Mass earlier.  They were sitting on a table at the break from which they would be brought forward at the Mass later.  Note the reflection of the stained glass on the surface.  I looked like a contortionist getting the tripod into the position needed to capture those reflections. 

The sacred vessels were cleaned and waiting for Mass to begin on Thursday night. 

There was an old monstrance in the sacristy.  I'd not seen it before.  I put it on the altar without the Sacred Body of Christ in the luna (the clear opening).  I like this shot through the glass luna that captures the door of the tabernacle behind it. 

The Church on Holy Saturday afternoon several hours before Mass. 

Sunday morning early before Mass. 

Have a Blessed Easter. 
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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