Homily for Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015.
The Christians of the Eastern Church have a beautiful custom. On Easter Sunday they greet one another with Christos Vescrest, Christ is risen! Our ‘Happy Easter’ greeting pales in comparison. The question before us this morning is “If Christ is risen, does it make any difference?” Or we could ask, “If Christ is risen, has it made any difference in the world?”
The obvious answer is “Of course it makes a difference. It makes all the difference in the world. Didn’t Jesus tell us he will be with us till the end of time? Isn’t the resurrection a sign that Jesus overcame sin and evil?” It is a fact, though, that there still is a lot of sin and evil in the world. Just watch the daily news or read the daily paper to see how much evil is present in our world today. But we still believe. We believe because we experience the power of Jesus present in our lives.
A grandfather gave his grandson a kite for his birthday. The grandson begged his grandfather to come outside to help him fly the kite. Near the yard was a hill. They went up the hill and within minutes the kite soared into the sky. Then suddenly a low cloud hid it from their sight. After a few minutes the grandfather said to his grandson, “Bobby, maybe some thief up in that cloud stole your kite!” Bobby shook his head in disagreement. A few minutes later the grandfather said again, “Bobby are you sure some thief up in that cloud didn’t steal your kite?” Again Bobby shook his head. The grandfather wasn’t finished teasing Bobby, so he said, “But Booby, how can you be sure the kite is still at the end of the string?” Bobby replied, “Because I can feel the kite tug at my string.”
Despite the presence of evil in our world, people still believe in the resurrection because they feel the tug of Jesus in their lives. They experience the power of the risen Jesus at work in their hearts. Here is an example.
A missionary name Noreen Towers for years had been working with the poor. In spite of all her efforts she saw absolutely no progress. She says, “I became despondent; I finally reached the breaking point. I was beaten. When I went to bed, I didn’t know how I could continue. The next morning, shortly after she awoke, something strange happened to her. It was as though Jesus himself said to her, “Can you not trust my plan for you?” Noreen then 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 unshakable hope and faith.” Today Noreen Towers work among the poor is bearing remarkable fruit.
There are many examples of this kind. Grace, a financial administrator said when she was taking cancer treatments, she could feel Jesus sitting beside her. Mary, a social worker, said during her cancer treatments, she felt she was sitting on Jesus’ lap. Why did Pope John Paul II attract so many people, especially the youth? I think the answer is because he was filled with the spirit of Jesus. There is a certain aura around people who are filled with the spirit of Jesus. That is why people are attracted to spirit filled persons. They can feel the tug of Jesus.
Jesus is risen! His power is active in the world. That is the message of Easter. Easter invites us to let Jesus help us trust again after we have lost our ability to trust. It invites us to help us love again after we have lost our ability to love, to hope again after we have lost our ability to hope.
Christ is risen! It really is good news. Everybody has Good Fridays in their lives. The good news is those Good Fridays can be turned into Easter Sundays with help of the Risen Christ. Jesus made that Easter power available to each one of us. Like St. Paul we can say, “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor things to come, nor anything else can separate us from the love of Christ.” Christ is risen. Christos Vescrest.