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The Resurrection of the Lord
April 21, 2019

 

     I have a question for you on this Easter morning, a very simple question: Are you ready for resurrection? I ask it of myself as well as of you: are we ready for resurrection?

     I should think we would be very ready this Easter. More ready, perhaps, than ever before. Since we last came together to celebrate Easter, so much of our story as a Church has been grim. I don’t know what other word to use. And I’m not thinking of the catastrophic event this past week at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, heartbreaking though that was. No, more grim, more heartbreaking by far than the terrible fire in that historic and beloved Cathedral, has been the endlessly unfolding abuse crisis in our beloved Church. Any way you look at it, we have been walking a long road to Calvary; we have come face-to-face with crucifixion - of victims and their loved ones, most certainly; and then, many of us have experienced a kind of personal crucifixion, as our faith has been severely tried and tested. So, resurrection we need. And hope. And, my friends, there is hope. Christ is risen. He lives! He is here in our midst.

     For those of us who are blessed with a rock-solid, unshakable faith, that is all we need in order to move on. But there are others of us who are like the apostles of the gospel reading. Shattered by the crucifixion of their friend and master and overcome by the deepest disillusionment, they were unable to hear the message that those brave, faith-filled women brought to them – how the stone had been rolled back from the tomb, how the body of Jesus was no longer there, how two men in dazzling garments had announced that he had been raised up. Luke tells us in the gospel that this all seemed like nonsense to those apostles and they refused to believe.

     That may be where some of us are on this Easter morning - not that we refuse to believe or dismiss the resurrection as nonsense - but we are so wounded that we find it hard to be hopeful. But, my friends, as I look out at you this morning, I find great reason for hope. I do! You are this amazing mix of humanity - pilgrims at different places along the journey of faith each one of you: you are stalwart believers and struggling believers, convinced, doubtful, disillusioned, unwavering, skeptical, steadfast. You are all of that and more. And you are here!  And that means you either have hope or are looking for hope. It means that you are responding to the promptings of God’s Spirit, the same Spirit who on Easter morning filled the dead and mangled body of Jesus with new and glorious life. And, my friends, what the Spirit did in and for Jesus, he can do in and for you and me.

     St. Paul, in the reading from Colossians, spoke about death and life. “You have died,” he told us. And it’s true. We die in many ways, don’t we? We die when a loved one dies; we die when we face our own mortality, our limitations, our sinfulness; we die when we see the pain and suffering in our world; we die when we see the rancor and deep divisions in our country. And, of course, we die because of what has happened in the Church we love. So, yes, we have died, but we need to hold onto what St. Paul went on to say in that reading: “your life is hidden with Christ in God.” “You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

     My friends, if we are looking for a reason to hope, there it is. Christ is with God. And we are with Christ. That’s what our baptism is all about. We are with Christ. We are his Body, the Church. And no matter how great the sins and failings of some in the Church, the grace and healing power of Christ is greater.

      And I say that not to let anyone off the hook: not Cardinals, not bishops, not priests. No one. I say it because it is true.

     So, my friends, for those of you who find yourselves among the disillusioned this Easter – weary and worn out - I pray that your belief in Christ risen will get rekindled this Easter. The Church is struggling but Christ has not abandoned us. Picture, if you will, the heartbreaking fire and collapse of the great vault of Notre Dame Cathedral. Devastating though it was, the Cathedral still stands and rising from its charred timbers is the glorious golden cross. The Church will rise from this dark moment as surely as Notre Dame Cathedral will rise from the ashes.

     The popular spiritual writer, Father Ron Rolheiser, writes that the real issue of faith today is not so much believing in God or in the resurrection. The real issue, he says, is believing that God can bring about resurrection into our lives right now - in the midst of all the darkness and doubt we live with. And to that I would add that God can even use the dark hour we have been living through to bring the Church to a point of conversion – more open to the Spirit of God, open to change – even far-reaching change - open to new and as yet untried possibilities.

      My friends, in just a few moments we are going to stand together to renew our baptismal promises. We will be asked if we believe in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit and, yes, in the holy Catholic Church. Some of those “I do’s” may be easier to say this year than others. But say them we will in an act of faith that only God can make possible, an act of faith that has echoed down through the ages – in times of grace and times of disgrace, in times of glory and times of shame. May our saying them together this Easter day strengthen the faith of each one of us, especially the faith of those who may struggle to say them. And, then, when we come forward to receive the Eucharist, may we find there the nourishment, strength and hope we need for traveling the journey that lies ahead.

Father Michael G. Ryan

 

 

 

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Seattle, Washington  98104
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