Homily, Third Sunday of Easter

Homily. Third Sunday of Easter, Year B

April 22, 2012

We may want to look at that common feature in the stories about the appearance of the risen Jesus: Those to whom he appears are bewildered, startled, frightened, terrified, doubting, disbelieving; some do not dare to talk about it.

Why would that be so?

  • It is something so unheard of…; it does not fit their scheme, their expectations…
  • Could it be that it also has something to do with what accepting and believing that the crucified Jesus has been raised from death may imply? Could it be that the first disciples have a hunch that Jesus having been raised from the dead means more than that all is well with Jesus now, that Jesus is fine now?

Could it be that they have a sense that the significance of Jesus having been raised is not restricted to Jesus? That it may implicate them? They may have the hunch that they may no longer live life or arrange their lives on the basis of some commonly held assumptions. And they are not sure whether they are up to it. Making room in their own lives for the humanly speaking unlikely, even impossible…

What are some of the commonly held assumptions on which we tend to arrange our lives, which then by Jesus having been raised have been called into question, overturned in fact? To mention a few examples: in our kind of world it does not pay to be honest or truthful to the end. Forgiveness does not get you anywhere; they may only take advantage of you. Fidelity to a commitment once made is just too much to ask from ordinary human beings. Assistance to the poor or to developing countries is just a waste. And, of course, there is always the inevitability or the ultimate frontier of life: death.

The significance of Jesus having been raised from the dead is that these commonly held assumptions are indeed overturned. Things that we consider self-evident are shattered. And as a result, if we really believe that the crucified Jesus has been raised from the dead, then we will have to let go of those assumptions, and we may have to arrange our lives differently. That may be the reason why all resurrection stories conclude with a summons to be witnesses to what God does in raising Jesus from the dead. To give witness to it?

We are such witnesses not only by talking about the resurrection of Jesus and singing our Alleluias, but when, in the power of the Spirit of the Risen Jesus, we let go of greed that makes us acquire things for the protection of our own security; it will instead make us share the goods of the earth. We are such witnesses when our words heal instead of hurt, and when our hearts understand; when we let go of the urge to take revenge and to get even, and instead forgive; when we dare to believe that love and fidelity, despite their burden at times, are more life-giving than selfishness and infidelity.

Is that sort of bearing witness to the Resurrection of Jesus beyond our ability? Yes! That is why the Risen Jesus promises us his Spirit who empowers us to do resurrection things…

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