Lubem, [4 Apr 2021 at 6:49:24 am]:
Homily for Easter Sunday Year B. 04-04-2021 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Acts 10:34, 37-43
Psalm: Psalm 117 (118): 1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4
Gospel: John 20: 1-9
The journey to freedom, progress and new life is always replete with suffering and pain, requiring much work and sacrifice as recounted by Nelson Mandela the Madiba in his famous 1994 autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. This seems to be a law of nature that applied also to Christ in no different way as it does apply even to us today. Just as we see parents untiringly sacrificing for their children to have a better future, the same way we see Christ sacrificing for us to have a new and better life. With the Original Sin, man had fallen and lost the original gracious state in which he was made that was characterized by close friendship with God and a blissful life in paradise. Thus, by the misuse of freedom, humanity lost that true freedom and became imprisoned in mortality and confined in its passions to evil, sin and death. Wallowing on earth aimlessly like sheep without a shepherd, the life of man left to himself is meaningless and without purpose. He indulges in all pleasure-seeking adventures yet remains unhappy. He toils all the days of his life to make money, and buys all that is buyable in the world, yet man remains unsatisfied and unfulfilled with the fleeting treasures of the world. Because what can truly satisfy the human heart is what lies beyond man and the physical world.
It is for this reason that Christ undertakes the painful path of the Cross to lead all humanity to that New World of true life and freedom where we can find everlasting happiness and meaning in our lives. This is the journey of His paschal mystery that took Him through His passion, death and resurrection which Peter recounts in our first reading of today, giving a firsthand post-resurrection witness report. It was a journey of sacrifice, indeed a long walk to freedom that passed through Good Friday, but culminated with the arrival of the new dawn on Easter Sunday. With Christ’s resurrection, the course of humanity’s history changed forever for good, since henceforth “all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through His name.” Having been given this opportunity of a New Life in the New World, we are no longer slaves to our passions, to sin, evil and the devil, and have been set free from the chains of mortality since we are now capable of immortality and Eternal Life in heaven as Sons and Daughters of God. But ask yourself, do you believe in Jesus? Why should you not? But what does it mean to believe in Him?
Believing in Jesus is not what we demonstrate only by words of mouth since the mouth can say anything even what it doesn’t mean. Remember, even the devil quotes scripture, but that doesn’t make him a Christian. That is why Christ says, “not everyone that says to me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Therefore, if we profess our faith in Jesus, we must correspond it with our actions. It is in the same vein that St. James also says “show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith” (James 2:18). This is the reason for which Christ says, “by their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:16). So, let us ask ourselves, how do we live our lives? What fruits are we bearing? To believe in Christ, we must obey Him and follow in His footsteps right from the beginning so that wherever He is, we also will be. Hence, we must be baptized like Him, so that we are made sharers in His passion and death in order to rise with Him at His resurrection on Easter. In this way, the first fruit our lives begin to bear is the fruit of love, that love of Christ which urges us always to do good as it does in the life of Mary of Magdala today.
Mary of Magdala is a true disciple who wasn’t deterred by any obstacle from loving. Though she was a woman and not oblivious of the many challenges that stood against her, she knew that only God has the final say in all that happens to us, and He never abandons His own. There was the stone at the entrance of the tomb, there were soldiers standing guard, but she wasn’t discouraged and instead went with faith and courage early in the morning to show her love and respect for Jesus. And because she walked by faith and not by sight, her faith saved her because the stone was rolled away. Ironically, this discovery of the empty tomb and not the body of Christ, became the first proof of the resurrection. This is the significance of the stone being rolled away as St. Peter Chrysologus said, “to behold the resurrection, the stone must first be rolled away from our hearts.” Hence, ask yourself today. Have you beheld the resurrection? You need to roll the stone away.
Sadly, even today some of us cannot still see the resurrection of Christ. We are no different from the soldiers who stood guard at the tomb yet were not witnesses of the resurrection. They neither knew when nor how the stone was rolled away. Like them, it means that we are walking by sight and not by faith. Our eyes of faith are blurred by the allures of the world and we need to clean them. For some people, it is wealth, for others it is pleasures, yet for others it is power and fame, envy, jealousy, or themselves. But for you, what is it that is blocking your vision? Unless we roll that “stone” away from blocking our faith vision, we cannot behold the resurrection of Christ. If you are still living in your sins, doubt, hatred, malice, backbiting, evil, your vision is blurred. Roll the stone away. You cannot see the resurrection when you have refused to change your life to consent to the fact that His resurrection has made us new creatures. Remember, Mary of Magdala is the same woman who was possessed by 7 demons. She approached Christ and was set free. She left her old way of life behind and became an ardent follower of Christ, becoming the first witness of the resurrection, and thus the apostle to the apostles. What about you? What do you need to leave behind? God can make use of you too if you are ready. Why not step back and look at your life, shed off the earthly part of you that is in opposition to Christ, so that your mind can be fixed on the things above and you can become a partaker in the New Life of Easter to share its joy and peace. Then the stone will have been rolled away for you to behold the resurrection of Christ, to become an Easter person, a citizen of the New World to which Christ has led us. There we can find life in abundance, true happiness and freedom as God’s children. May the Lord make us His true and faithful followers, so that we can be partakers in His resurrection to share His joy and peace to all whom we meet. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen