18 April 20213 Easter

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
3 Easter

Third Sunday of Easter - Cycle B - Luke 24:35-48

"Read it three times." The advice came from novelist William Faulkner to readers who could not understand his book. He might also include the Easter Gospels in that advice.

The Sioux Indians have left us a clever line: "The first question people ask after death is, 'Why was I so frightened?'"

The Sioux braves would not have been as surprised as we were by the findings on life after death discovered by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969. They were revealed in her blockbuster book On Death and Dying. The book was based on interviews with people who were judged clinically dead and then revived. Hundreds of thousands of copies are in circulation.

Dr Kubler-Ross has had many followers. Their research method and hers were the same. Interviews were held with the apparently dead shortly after their revival. When the doctors pooled the results of their interviews across the US, they were amazingly similar. People recalled their soul outside their body. They testified to feelings of peace and contentment and meeting dead family members and a religious person whom some call Jesus.

Dr Kubler-Ross writes this remarkable line. "The most common denominator of all these people is that when they come back, many of them resented our desperate attempts to bring them back to life. None of the patients who had a death experience and returned are ever afraid to die again."

With Kubler-Ross as a backdrop, let us check out the Easter Gospels. Perhaps they can add to our information on life after death. Perhaps we can discover why Catholics, who have paid their dues this side of the river, would choose not to return after death. Indeed they would be outraged.

But why outraged? The Easter Gospels suggest that they have begun to party. They are living life in the fast lane - whatever language you like. Theirs is the wisdom of the monk who said death is nothing more than God's manner of recycling.

Check the resurrected Jesus of today's Gospel. He is a flesh and blood person. He speaks. He is even hungry. Why else would He eagerly ask, "What's for supper?"

We do not know what kind of a body we will have. But there is a strong hint in St Paul's letter to Philemon 3:21. "The Lord will transform our lowly bodies into copies of his own body." It does sound like we are going to go first class. Besides, most of us are unhappy with our bodies. Have you noticed that there are very few Audrey Hepburns and Cary Grants born? We have nowhere to go but up.

Let us tackle the big sleep problem. College students say to me, "Got to party now, Father! We'll do all our sleeping in the cemetery." Forget about that eternal sleep. The resurrected Christ is constantly on the go - Jerusalem, Emmaus, and then a three day walk up to Galilee. His trips sound exhausting.

It is not surprising though. Jesus never said, "I am the resurrection and the rest." Rather He kept insisting, "I am the resurrection and the life." You can look it up in John 11.

Heaven then is not a place where we go to collect bed sores. You will not need your pajamas. Get your sleep while alive.

Hold onto your seats, for the best is yet to come. This is all verbatim from the Easter Gospels. Death does not mean we go into solitary confinement. The resurrected Christ is constantly surrounded by people. Today's Gospel is proof of that. But also look up John 20 and 21. He is forever eating or cooking. Perhaps you should be buried with your recipes and good Burgundy.

What is He telling us? "I know you need human companionship. You will meet your families again. Everyone but your mother will be surprised you made it into heaven."

Also, as Donald Senior has pointed out, the resurrected Christ speaks no angry words, shows no tension, and has no enemies. This is a night and day difference from the pre-resurrected Christ. Think of Him driving those bandits from the Temple! His Easter message is that we can leave all our tranquilizers and prescriptions behind us. There is no need for a pharmacy or health plan in heaven.

The shadows of death may be long and dark, but the Easter Gospels tell us they are not forever.

After our respective deaths down the road, I believe we us will say with the Sioux Indians, "Why was I so frightened?"

The savant tells us that those of us who are prepared to die are prepared to live.

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
3 Easter

Third Sunday of Easter: Witnesses

Today’s Gospel reading is an Easter account from the Gospel of Luke. It begins with the events that took place on the evening of Easter Sunday after Jesus had appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. You remember the disciples were walking and talking when a stranger caught up to them and joined their conversation. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” One of them, said in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?...The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people; how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” Then, you remember, the stranger explained 

scripture to them. He then ate with them and broke the bread and wine as He did at the Last Supper. After this He disappeared, and they realized that this was Jesus. Their hearts were on fire. They ran to Jerusalem to tell Peter and the apostles that they had seen the Lord.

Today’s Gospel begins right after this, with the two disciples gathered together with the Twelve telling them their experience. Jesus again appears. This time everyone recognizes Him, but thinks He is a ghost. So Jesus showed them His hands and feet and told them to touch Him. He even ate a piece of fish to prove that He was not a ghost. He explained the scriptures leading to this moment and said, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

“You are witnesses of these things.” He called His disciples to be witnesses. He calls us to be His witnesses.

In a court of law, at least in America, when someone is called to be a witness, that person has to swear that he or she will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We, the witnesses of Jesus Christ, are called to give testimony that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. We are called to testify that there is more to life than the physical, there is the spiritual. We are called to proclaim that Jesus Christ came, suffered, died and rose from the dead so that we could have a share in His eternal life.

The world needs to hear our testimony. The world needs to hear that there is so much more around us than the every day concerns of our lives, or for us Americans, our country. The 24/7 news reports from the left and from the right provide us with incessant whining regarding the statements and actions of those with opposite views. It makes it seem as though the world will stop if the views opposite their position are allowed to take hold on the country and the world. Because there are few people of faith on either side in the media, they miss that all their reports pale in comparison to the only news that matters, the Good News, the Gospel. Jesus Christ has saved the world. He has given us eternal life. We have to treasure this life, and lead others to His life. We have to take a stand for all that is right and moral whether it comes from the liberals or the conservatives, and we have to fight against all that which is wrong and immoral whether it exists among the liberals or conservatives. The bottom line of our concern is not either of the parties positions. The bottom line for us is the Truth of Jesus Christ. Every position in politics, every law in the land, must be seen from the perspective of the Truth of Jesus Christ.

Who is there in this country who is going to stand up for what is right and true, just and moral? Who? We, that’s who. We are witnesses to Jesus Christ. We are witnesses to His Truth. It is our obligation to apply the Christian litmus test to the events of the world.

Let nothing disturb you,

Let nothing frighten you,

All things are passing away:

God never changes.

Patience obtains all things

Whoever has God lacks nothing;

God alone suffices.

-- St. Teresa of Avila

If only people realized that there was so much more to life than meets the eye, if only people realized that the spiritual is real, if only people realized that the eternal life of the Lord is available for them, that 

the Lord is reaching out to them, then they would realize that much of their upset in politics as well as in their daily lives is insignificant next to the overwhelming truth of Jesus Christ. 

Someone must be found to let the world know about the only reality that matters. This is what we have been called to do. We are His witnesses.

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
3 Easter

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
3 Easter
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