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Easter Sunday
April 9, 2023

Watch this homily! (Begins at 44:30)

     I sometimes wonder, if Easter is the greatest Christian feast – and it certainly is – why is so much about it a little superficial. We dress up a bit, go to church, take in the decorations, sing the hymns, listen to the homily (or not!), share the peace with family and neighbors, receive Communion, and then head home for brunch or maybe an Easter egg hunt, but basically for business as usual.

     If Easter really is our greatest feast, is that enough? Don’t get me wrong: all those things I’ve just mentioned are important; they’re just not enough. Easter needs to be more than a passing moment in church or a family get-together. Easter needs to be more than a moment, more even than a day: Easter is a wake-up call, a great awakening, a way of looking at life - all of life. In the end, Easter is really a revolution!

     But we’ve kind of tamed Easter, haven’t we – reducing it to a feel-good moment, to a social event, to bunnies and baskets! We’ve sanded down the hard edges of Easter – its bold faith, its demanding discipleship, its countercultural values, its explosive possibilities. The result is an Easter that is anything but a revolution. 

     For Mary Magdalene, the resurrection of Jesus changed everything. The very first to encounter the risen Christ, she became not only a witness to the resurrection, she became an apostle - sent by the risen Christ to announce the amazing news of his resurrection to Peter and John, and the other apostles. Talk about a revolution! In the ancient world the testimony of women counted for nothing, and here the prime witness is Mary Magdalene! Small wonder the early Church Fathers called her “the apostle to the apostles!” Easter changed everything for her and for all the apostles. Before long, they were on fire and they unleashed a firestorm that swept through the ancient world!

     A question: what does Easter do for you? Does it set you on fire? I’d have to give myself mixed reviews. I don’t always live my faith in a way that speaks of Easter, of Christ’s victory over death. But I should, because here’s the thing: the resurrection of Jesus is God’s definitive pronouncement, God’s divine assurance that life is infinitely stronger than death, that life, not death, will always get the last word. And that has implications for everything under the sun. Everything! Our personal lives, our faith lives, and our lives as citizens of this world: our principles, our priorities, even our politics.

     If life has the last word, then love must overcome hatred, forgiveness must overcome bitterness, and generosity must overcome greed. And in the world out there, if life is to overcome death, then poor people must be clothed, housed and fed, the unborn must be protected, refugees must be harbored and immigrants welcomed, swords must be turned into plowshares, and God’s magnificent creation must be treated with the greatest awe and wonder and care. The resurrection of Jesus is about life and each of those is a ‘life issue,’ – life overcoming death in all its ugly forms.

     That, my friends, is the Easter revolution I’m talking about. Easter, Christ’s resurrection, puts us squarely on the side of life, not death. It should make us champions – vocal, impassioned, outspoken advocates - for life however, and whenever, and wherever it is threatened by the forces of death.

     On Easter, God did not just roll back a stone and raise a dead body to life. God did that, for sure, but God raised up Jesus so that his gospel would not be a dead letter but a living force. And, my friends, the only way the gospel of Jesus lives is if we live it. Not just on Easter Sunday, but every day.  Think of it this way: Easter is as much an agenda as it is an event. That means we have our work cut out for us because we are surrounded by so much death! 

     And I know: it’s hard to hold onto hope when we’re dealing with the many ways death comes at us - illness, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the break-up of a marriage, war, terrorism. These, and so many more.

     Where are we to find hope and life in all of that? It’s challenging, but we must not let our fears or our defeats get the last word. Our faith needs to get the last word: our Easter faith.

     Years ago, the Jesuit theologian and paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin gave a lecture about his Easter faith. He painted this vision of unity and peace for the human family and for the world. Afterwards, a colleague challenged him: “That’s a wonderful, tantalizing vision, but suppose we blow up the world with a nuclear bomb?  What happens to your great vision then?”

     “That would set things back millions of years,” Chardin replied, “but the vision will still come to pass, not because I say so or because the facts right now indicate that it will, but because God promised it and in raising Jesus from the dead God has shown that he can deliver on that promise!”

      My friends, the resurrection of Jesus assures us that our world and our lives will make sense in the long run, even if our world and our lives sometimes seem to be spinning out of control. The march of history will not end in some cruel joke even if along the way there are difficult detours. The final word in our personal pilgrimage and in the story of the human family will not be death, but life, because Christ is risen. That’s the Easter faith we need to take out there when we leave the Cathedral today.

      My friends, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Let the revolution begin!

Father Michael G. Ryan





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Seattle, Washington  98104
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