Sunday, April 28, 2019
Last summer, I led a group of pilgrims to Greece and Turkey. We wanted to visit places associated with both St. Paul & St. John.
Ephesus in Turkey – where he preached, where he had a house to take care of Mary – Woman, behold your Son. Son behold your Mother – we offered Mass there - and where he is buried.
Island of Patmos – back in the time of John it was a Roman Penal colony where prisoners were sent. He was sent because he was teaching about Jesus. We drove up the hill overlooking the harbor and went into the “Cave of the Apocalypse” - the very place where John wrote – the Book of the Apocalypse – sounds like the end of the world – but means “unveiling” Revelation.
John heard a voice and saw 7 gold lampstands – Holy of Holies in Jerusalem – place of encounter with God.
Then he saw - One like a son of Man – an ankle length robe – gold sash – and John fell down. He knew who it was!!! John said - He touched me – Jesus said - Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever! Another Resurrection appearance!
If John looked closer – he would have seen the holes – the wounds. He will mention them later – “the Lamb standing as though it had been slain.” Thomas was looking for them. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
He saw and said – “My Lord and My God!”
The Bible is clear – the same body, but now bearing the wounds. Both St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine agree – the wounds have never been removed. Why would he continue to bear the wounds?
First – to show it was really him! This is how much He loves us!
Second, to remind us – this is the cost of following him. We all bear the wounds, don’t we? We are all wounded in some way – some wounds self-inflicted – some inflicted by others – the wounds of love – of caring – of service – of sickness – of pain – we all have them. And – having His own wounds - he understands!
It would have been an easy reaction – you all abandoned me – yet he was filled with mercy for Thomas and all of them. He walks in and says – Shalom – peace! – Divine Mercy!
Divine Mercy – ABC
Ask – Jesus, remember me – Father, forgive them. Forgiveness is always there, especially in the Sacrament of Confession
Be Merciful – If you are a follower – let’s see your hands – your feet – your heart!
Completely Trust – Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever! And remember, I will be with you always, even unto the end of the world!
It was very difficult to watch! It was just unthinkable. Notre Dame Cathedral on fire. There was a real concern – would it be totally destroyed? Thank goodness for the heroic firefighters.
Among the heroes was Father Jean-Marc Fournier – he risked his own life to rescue the Crown of Thorns and the Blessed Sacrament. Why?
He said & I quote: “Everyone understands that the Crown of Thorns is an absolutely unique and extraordinary relic, but the Blessed Sacrament is Our Lord, really present in his body, soul, divinity and humanity and you understand that it is hard to see someone you love perish in the blaze. As firefighters we often see casualties from fire and we know its effects; this is why I sought to preserve above all the real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
One could not even speak of the Eucharist in this way unless – Jesus is Risen.
On this and every Easter we proclaim – the one who was dead now lives – and is still with us here in the Eucharist. How can this be?
What is the Resurrection?
- Some say it is a metaphor – Jesus was still alive in their hearts and minds. He lives on in memory.
- Some – another way to speak of nature after the death of winter, like caterpillars to butterflies and frozen earth to green shoots.
- Some – his legacy lives on. Jesus will live on, just like the writings of Shakespeare on the music of Beethoven.
Nice – but we believe in something more – That he physically rose from the dead – Why? What is the evidence?
1) The Tomb was empty. Where is He? If the authorities took His Body, why not show it? If robbers – why did they leave behind the cloths, the only things of value?
2) He was seen on 11 occasions, once by over 500 people. Some say a hallucination – for 500???
3) The disciples were never the same. They left the Upper Room never to return. All except John would die a violent death – John in exile. Would you give your life for a made-up story?
4) It is still happening! Over 1 Billion Catholics in the world. And the Faith is still being passed on. Paige will be Baptized and Sharon & William received into the church.
So now – each one must make a decision!
Was Jesus crazy or dangerous – or did He speak the Truth?
Is he who he said He is? – the Son of God?
And if He is, and He rose from the dead – what does that mean for my life?
1) Nothing can separate us from God – not sin, not even death!
2) I am called to live in His light – to live His teachings, to be a light to my brothers and sisters!
After Father Fournier found the Blessed Sacrament – he stopped – and blessed the Church with the Eucharist.
He said & I quote - “Here I am completely alone in the nave of the cathedral, in the middle of burning debris falling down from the ceiling. I call upon Jesus to help us save His Home. I did not want to simply leave with Jesus. I took the opportunity to perform a benediction with the Blessed Sacrament”
Why? – Jesus is Risen! He lives and He calls us to follow Him! – May the Risen Christ bless you and your family this Easter!