Monday, April 6, 2009



In the Gospel we had just read, we learned that Mary Magdalene was so surprised when she saw that the stone that covered the tomb where Jesus' body was lain had been moved away. The Gospel of Saint Matthew related that she and other women met an angel who announced to them: "You are looking for Jesus the crucified, but he is not here. He has been raised, exactly as he promised"(Mt. 28:5-6). Then, they hurried away from the tomb half-overjoyed and half-fearful, and ran to carry the good news to his disciples.

When Peter and John received the news about the empty tomb, they immediately ran toward the tomb. John arrived first but did not enter instead bent down to peer in, and saw the wrappings lying on the ground. He waited for Peter and together they entered the tomb. This is because according to the Jewish Law the testimony of two witnesses is juridically valid. Since both Peter and John went in together, their verification constituted a valid account. They saw that the wrappings were "rolled up in a place by itself." No thief would have gone through the trouble of removing the bandages just to leave them there; it would have been more logical for the thief to have taken away the body wrapped in bandages. This is to refute the theory of the chief priests that the body of Jesus was stolen by the disciples.

In the light of the foregoing, factual evidence of Christ's resurrection as shown by the empty tomb is not an invention of the early Christians. In fact, Christ Himself made sure that His followers would believe in the reality of His resurrection. He stayed on earth for forty days more after His resurrection to appear before His disciples - to Simon Peter, to the Twelve and to more than five hundred brethren (cf. 1 Cor 15:6). The number of eyewitnesses is more than enough to establish the truthfulness of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

Christ is risen! These words express a truth that has been handed down to us by the Apostles. They remind us that Christ's resurrection is a historical fact. The New Testament tells us how the Apostles experienced the Risen Lord, who was only seen by them, but was perceived by touch and by every form of communication and perception man is capable of. Our faith, my dear brothers and sisters, rests on these eyewitnesses of the apparition of our risen Lord. "If Christ had not been raised", says St. Paul, "our preaching is void of content and your faith is empty too" (1 Cor 15:14).

There are many reasons for celebrating this beautiful and unparalleled event. For one, without Christ's resurrection, we will still be slaves of Satan; without His resurrection, we are still dead to sin. But because Christ rise from the dead, we have been freed from the clutches of the devil. In the words of last night's Easter praises, we continue to proclaim joyfully that "the power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride."

With Christ's resurrection, we are given the hope that we shall also have a similar resurrection. We shall raise up with Him. Therefore, Christ's resurrection is also ours. In this regard, St. Paul tells us that "if we have been united with Him through likeness to his death, so shall we be through a like resurrection"(Rom 6:5). These words inspire hope, create encouragement and produce joy. They also challenge us to prove our oneness with Christ in His resurrection by the life we live. "Since you have been raise up in company with Christ, set your heart on what pertains to higher realms where Christ is seated at God's right hand"(Col 3:1).

St. Paul once again reminds us: "When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery"(Gal. 5:1). To be really free is to live the resurrection experience by rising our defeats and spurning with out lives the creeping postures of death. Faith in the resurrection leads us to a renewed hope in the preponderance of possibilities of a new life. We rediscover our real identity as persons whose vocation is to be in union with God and with others. We leave behind the tombs of isolation, selfishness, hatred, and sin to be God's servants of life. We emerge as re-created persons reaching out in communion with one another, celebrating the communal faith in the Risen Christ. Simply to say, we have to undertake a life that is new - that which follows the teachings of the Gospel. Then will our actions ring the joyous notes of an Easter allelluia song, and we shall become a living proof of Christ's resurrection.

Another reason for us to be joyful on this day is because Christ's resurrection gives a rich meaning to our Sunday Eucharistic celebration. In fact, the early Christian Jews changed their time-honored last day of the week observance of the Sabbath to the first day of the week and called it the Lord's Day. That is why, Sunday is a special day of gathering for us as a community of believers; we celebrate the Mass and collectively proclaim the mystery of our faith: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again."


Easter Sunday Homily
Gospel: Jn 20:1-9
Theme: We know that Jesus is alive and risen because we can feel his risen power at work in our lives.



A small boy and his grandfather were fying a kite on a hill. The kite soared into the sky, then suddenly a low cloud hid it from their sight. The granfather said to the boy, "Bobby, maybe some thief up in that cloud stole your kite!" The boy shook his head in disagreement. "But Bobby," said the grandfather, "how can you be sure that the kite is still at the end of your string?" The boy replied, "Because I can feel something you can't feel. I can feel the kite tug at my string."

That story illustrates whu many people who were not privileged to see Jesus after His resurrection were sure, nonetheless, that he had risen from the dead. They were sure for the same reason the boy was sure that no one had stolen his kite. They felt the tug of Jesus in their lives. In other words, they experienced the power of the risen Christ at work in their hearts.

* * *

Before Easter Sunday many people were filled with doubt. They had seen Jesus die a terrible death on Good Friday. They had seen Jesus nailed on a cross and had watched their dreams die before their eyes. But then came Easter Sunday morning. News spread throughout Jerusalem that the rock that sealed the tomb had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. The Jewish authorities told the guards at the tomb to say that someone had stolen the body while they dozed during the night (cf. Mt. 28:13).

At first people wondered about the guard's story. Was it really true? Did someone steal the body of Jesus? But as time passed, the people became sure beyond doubt that the body had not been stolen. Jesus had, indeed, risen!

And the reason the people were sure is the same reason that the little boy was sure that no one had stolen his kite. They felt the tug of Jesus in their lives. They felt the power of Jesus at work in their lives.

* * *

Transformed by this power, the people went forth to tell the good news to all the world. No amount of persecution could stop them. Eventually, some of them were crucified, like their master. Others were ripped apart by wild beasts in the Roman Collosseum. Still others were burned alive at the stake. But their belief in Jesus never wavered. The lives of these early Christians changed the course of history.

Today, 2,000 years later, modern Christians still feel the tug of Jesus. They still feel the power of Jesus at work in their hearts. An example is a missionary who for years has been working among the poor. In spite of all his efforts, he saw absolutely no progress. He says: "I became despondent... I finally reached the breaking point one night... I was beaten... When I went to bed, I didn't know how could I continue." The next morning, shortly after he awoke, something strange happened to him. It was as though Jesus himself said to him, "Can you not trust my plan for you? He writes: Then I realized that I did not have to see the plan, I only had to trust Him. I arose from my bed a different person... My encounter with the living Christ changed me from a broken defeated person into a person with unshakeable hope and faith." Today, the missionary's work among the poor is bearing remakable fruit.

That story is what Easter all about. It is the good news that Jesus is risen and in our midst. It is the good news that Jesus has a plan for each one of us. And nothing can interfere with that plan is we don't let it - not pain, not sorrow, not rejection, not sin, not even death.

* * *

Easter invites us to let Jesus help us trust again after we've lost our ability to trust.
It invites us to let Jesus help us love again after we've lost our ability to love.
It invites us to let Jesus help us hope again after we've lost our ability to hope.
It invites us to let Jesus help us pick up the broken pieces of our lives and start over again after we've given up.

* * *

Easter is the good news that Jesus has triumph over sin and evil; and so will we, if we but open our hearts to His Easter power.
It is the good news that Jesus is ready to work miracles in us, if we but open our hearts to His Easter power.
It is the good news that every Good Friday in our lives can be turned into an Easter Sunday, if we but open our hearts to His Easter power.


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