4/4/2021 Easter Mass video & homily -- now available
ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN!
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HOMILY FOR 4/4/2021: EASTER SUNDAY
MSGR. PAUL ENKE
Today on this Easter morning, I'd ask you to think back just a few days to last Wednesday morning. It started out as a raw day: temperature falling, wind blowing, and a smattering of [snow] to top it all off. I would call it a perfect Good Friday kind of day. Thankfully, though, our daffodils and forsythia were surviving it well.
At the same time, here in our church building are two large signs in the gathering space that have been up since May--advising all entering to scrub their hands and to wear their masks before entering. However, between them was a painting that I purchased years ago up in Millersburg, OH, and that painting shows the sun just beginning to rise over the hills of Holmes County, flooding that scene with a bright light. I put that there to remind all entering that despite the virus, the light of the risen Christ overcomes the darkness and despair of those earlier months of the pandemic.
And if we're honest, we must acknowledge that that darkness has not entirely lifted yet. The new CDC director warned us just the other day that unless we adhere to their guidelines, there is--as she said--an impending doom ahead of us. Awfully strong words indeed.
So this is the Easter we face today. Think back, though, to the very first Easter morn. Now that was truly an impending doom for those first disciples of Jesus. Their Lord and their brother had been taken from them, beaten, spat upon, crucified, died, and was buried. When his mother and Mary Magdala came to the tomb, they found a young man in white sitting there beside an empty tomb who said, "Do not be amazed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised. He is not here," and told them that they would see him again in Galilee. And that was the same message we heard this morning: that Mary of Magdala would later give to Peter and to John and us over all these centuries.
It is also the same message that the famous Anglican priest and poet John Donne would compose in the early 1600's when he wrote:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. [...]
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
What Donne and our Christian faith is saying is this: that the Resurrection of Jesus proves that love is stronger than death--stronger even than any impending doom. God in Christ is saying this to us. This is what will last: my life and my love will always and forever be the final word.
So, how then do we respond to that ultimate truth? Well, Pope Francis offers us an answer this Easter of 2021 when he said, Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he [wants] you to do."
So this is why I say, as I did at the beginning of Mass, with the whole Church throughout the world today, that the Lord is risen. He is risen indeed. And this is what makes all the difference.
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The quotation from Pope Francis is from his homily during the 2013 Easter Vigil,
available on the Vatican website
St. Edward Church
on Saturday, April 3 at 8:57PM