Joseph F. Mali
EASTER SUNDAY HOMILY, YEAR C
THE RESURRECTION DEPENDS ON YOU AND
THE HOUR OF EVIL IS ONLY TEMPORARY
I once heard of a couple who went to the Holy Land on vacation. In Jerusalem, at lunch in a restaurant, the man had a massive heart attach and fell on the floor. The restaurant management called an ambulance. The man was rushed to the emergency room where he died a few minutes later. His grief stricken wife began making arrangements for the body to be flown to their country for burial. One of the doctors said to the woman: “Madam, it will cost you a lot of money to take the corps home. Why don’t you bury him in Jerusalem? We will give you a plot.” The woman replied, “There is no way I will have my husband buried in Jerusalem. I once heard that a man was buried here and three days later he rose again. I don’t want my husband to come back to life. I want him to rest in peace. Where we come from the dead do not rise again. I will take him home for burial.”
The woman was refereeing to Jesus’ resurrection. When we say, Jesus is risen, what exactly do we mean? By the resurrection of Jesus we mean he lives on. First, Jesus lives on in his followers. We are gathered here in the church not for a political rally, not for an economic summit. We are assembled in church in Jesus’ name. Jesus, then, lives on in us; those who believe in him and live by his teachings. Secondly, Jesus is alive in his words. When we gather together to worship, we read the gospel of Jesus. Each time we proclaim Jesus’ words, he comes alive. A man once said to me, “My father passed away a year ago. But I believe he is still alive in his seven last words to me. Each time I recall the seven words I can hear my father; I can even feel his presence, and imagine him. To me, my father lives on.” Similarly, for us Christians, Jesus is alive in his words.
Thirdly, Jesus is alive in the Eucharist. The night before he suffered Jesus took bread and wine sand said, “this is my body; this is blood.” Then he added: “Do this in remembrance of me.” Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus is made present because the Eucharist is a memorial of him. This, then, is what we mean by the resurrection – Jesus lives on in his followers, in his words, and in the sacrament of his body and blood.
About two thousand years ago the resurrection depended on God who raised Jesus from the dead. Two thousand years later, the resurrection depends on us who believe in him. If we live good lives, and follow his example, Jesus is alive. He is alive in our good deeds. But if we follow the way of the wicked, doing harm to ourselves and to others, Jesus is dead. He is dead and buried in the tomb of our evil deeds. Thus, the resurrection of Jesus depends on us today. Jesus is alive or dead to the extent that we love one another and show concern for others.
On Palm Sunday, preaching on the Passion Narrative, I spoke of the hour of evil. In the Passion story, Jesus was arrested, tortured, ridiculed, and put to death like a criminal. It was the hour of evil in life of Jesus. But the hour of evil is not everlasting. It is only for a short time. In the case of Jesus, it only lasted three days. On Easter Sunday, Jesus came back to life, ending the hour of evil in his life.
Here, then, is why we need to remain strong like Jesus when evil strikes. Evil’s victory is momentary. Consider the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January. True, it was catastrophic. It did unspeakable damage to that country. But the earthquake itself did not go on for days and weeks. The actual event was momentary. What went on for weeks and months are the kindness, the generosity, and the aid that followed the tragedy. Good will outlast evil.