Live! Love Lives!-Rev. Judy’s Easter Homily 4/20/14
Thank God for Easter! Thank God for rolling away the stone. Thank you, Jesus for showing us how to walk the walk even unto your death. Most of all, thank you for rising again and showing us how to rise!
This year our Good Shepherd Community celebrated Holy Thursday and Good Friday long before last week. Young and old have had major illnesses, frightening surgeries, the onset of serious limitations, the daily challenges of poverty and homelessness and caretaking for the sick and dying, and violent deaths. We washed each other’s feet and “oh this feels good” could be heard from our hard working people. When we went through the Last Supper with Jesus and stripped the altar we remembered how our lives were stripped. When we walked the Stations of the Cross in the community our twelve year old boy, Jakein, who was baptized last June volunteered to “be Jesus” and carry the Cross. As we found a Colombian Serape that would fit his height, worn over a man’s white shirt our Jesus stood and smiled in all his glory. And we smiled and in our hearts we cried. For the young black men of our community have the hardest road of all. We have lost so many to gangs and violence both as victims and perpetrators. We prayed with and for this Jesus as he made his way through the streets with the community following.
We stopped as he was sentenced in front of the church and as he fell in front of a home that offered the community some hope because Builders Care was rehabilitating it. We remembered hope every moment of his journey-even when we stopped in front of a “crack house” where two men died within two years as they sat drinking alcohol in the yard. And, when we reached the shopping center where many stores were closed and boarded up we prayed for the community. Even the Bail Bond center was closed and we prayed for those in jail, wrongly and rightly. We prayed in front of Foreclosures as Jesus fell for the third time. We prayed for all who died unjustly or as victims, especially children. We prayed to learn how to forgive. Our Jesus helped us do that. But most of all our hearts were moved to feel a new joy as we lived Station 15, the resurrection. Our young Jesus got up and took a bow.
Jesus is risen from the dead! That is the miracle we believe and now live. Now we too must move from death to life. We now remember the joys and life we have. We rejoice in our young people who are now in college and working despite the odds and rough road! We rejoice in Natasha who got all A’s, will graduate from High School, and is accepted into colleges and preparing to go. We rejoice in the joy of our community. We rejoice in the parents, grand- parents, God-parents and community members who live Christ and guide our youth. We rejoice in a community that is one with the poor and outcast, the physically and mentally ill and struggling, accepting all. We rejoice in lives turned around, homeless housed, and sick made healthy with the love of God. We rejoice in Easter Love!
Only love gets you up in the morning and brings you to the tomb like Mary of Magdala and Mary. And only with the eyes of love will you be one of those who can see and hear and believe in the human impossibility of the resurrection. Only Love will let you know that YOU don’t have to move the stone away! Only some folks saw Jesus after he rose-I think they were those who could see with the eyes of love Only love will let you see that Jesus did not come forth as Lazarus did wrapped in the clothes of the dead-he came forth as a new and transformed being-fresh and new! (John 20:6-7) So take off your burial clothes. He folded that burial cloth that covered his face and left it there. His napkin was folded, he was coming back to the Table. Jesus the Christ rose from the dead and was not going to carry death with him.
Only love will let you see the empty Cross and let you deeply realize that Jesus the Christ is now let loose in our midst. The loving women (Matthew 28:1-10) saw that he was not there and ran to tell the others. Jesus met those faithful loving women on the road and commissioned them to “go and tell” to be the apostles to the other disciples, apostles to the apostles. They were the first to carry the message of his new life. Throughout the world, and in churches where they are forbidden to serve at the altar in equal manner as priests or even altar servers, women are treated not as blessed but as second class. Symbolically the altar is Christ, it was women who tended that body in life and death and women who first testified of his life. Loving God, forgive them for they know not what they do. Let the scales fall off the eyes of the Church and all who oppress and victimize women and children, men and all who are different and outcast. Bring Easter life back to the Church and to the world.
Let us look at our own lives and hearts. Are we still carrying the crucifix of a dead Jesus and wearing the burial clothes of life’s losses and disappointments? Or are we becoming fresh and new with the risen Christ? Do our lives point to the crucifix or to the risen Christ-full of new life, transformed and vibrant? Oh, loving God, give us back our joy, give us the fullness of new life no matter what Good Fridays we have faced or will face. Give us the joy of the resurrection!
Our loving God rolls away the stone and raises us from the dead with Christ. Let us keep on keeping on, let us truly become an Easter people! Not death but resurrection is God’s final word-new life- now and forever!
HAPPY EASTER !
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida