Prepare to be great

Homily of the month

Where do you meet Jesus?

Jesus came again and again to those who loved him. He came again and again reassuring them until they really believed it had happened: Jesus had risen from the dead. It is much the same in our lives, writes Catherine Collins in PREPARE THE WORD'S featured homily for Easter.

PREPARE THE WORD's library includes insightful sample homilies for funerals, sacraments, holy and feast days, and special occasions. We regularly add new homilies to the mix. Feel free to submit a homily you've written or from someone on your parish preaching team that you want to offer for consideration. Send homilies to mail@preparetheword.com.

Holy days/feasts: The Resurrection of the Lord: The Mass of Easter Sunday
Readings: Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8; John 20:1-9 or Luke 24:1-12 or Luke 24:13-35

DARKNESS, DAWN, a faint glow on the horizon—the first hour of the first day of the week. At the tomb Mary Magdalene was confused, frightened—the stone had been rolled away. When he arrived Peter was amazed. Hollywood would say, “This is the first day of the rest of their lives.” No, this is the first day of a new era, an era of light and life and love.

Jesus came again and again to those who loved him. He didn’t appear to Pilate or Herod. He came to those who loved him, to those who believed in him. They met in Galilee, home territory, familiar places, where the disciples would be comfortable. He came again and again reassuring them until they really believed it had happened: Jesus had risen from the dead.

It is much the same in our lives. He comes often to those who seek the truth, to those who long for him, and just like the disciples we, too, grow in love and understanding.

It is much the same in our lives. He comes often to those who seek the truth, to those who long for him, and just like the disciples we, too, grow in love and understanding.

Recently a woman told me this story. Years ago she was in the kitchen cooking a Sunday brunch shortly before Easter, when her oldest son, then 9 years old, came in and said, “Hey, Mom, there isn’t an Easter Bunny is there?” Surprised, she queried, “Why are you asking?” Her son answered, “Well, you know, the Easter eggs and the little chicks, they’re all symbols of new life because Jesus is alive. He rose from the dead! You and Dad hide the Easter eggs.”

The mother smiled as she reminisced. Her son was nodding his head, encouraging me to agree because he was certain of his new understanding. “I think I burned the bacon that morning,” she continued, “and he and I had a little talk. He was so little and yet he had begun to explore the meaning of Easter—Christ alive within us. That was years ago and I am still touched every time I talk about it.”

Of course she was moved by that memory because every time we tell our God-story, God comes to us again. We bring the past into the present and it is filled with grace.

Telling the story: That’s what the first disciples did. Mary Magdalene first ran to tell Peter. Peter and the beloved disciple went to see for themselves. The gospel indicates confusion, amazement, fear, and even tentative faith, but I don’t think those disciples were silent. I can see them full of excitement, discussing some of the things Jesus had told them—the light beginning to dawn. Perhaps they started to spread the news: The tomb is empty! Did they tell Mary, Jesus’ mother? Did they tell Mary, Martha, and Lazarus? The point is from day one they told the story of how they experienced Jesus; maybe only with close friends at first, those who were safe, but I think they couldn’t contain themselves.

Where have you met the Lord recently? Are you spreading the Good News?

Perhaps you found peace in receiving forgiveness, or maybe you were the one who forgave and experienced that marvelous freedom in letting go. Blessed are those peacemakers; they are free of hostility and vengeance.

Perhaps you met the Lord in the struggle for justice for the poor and the marginalized. Blessed are those who search for justice because they see the world with compassionate eyes. They are free from prejudice.

Speaking of the poor, did you meet the Lord as you fed or clothed those in need? Did you visit those confined by age or illness? That is a blessing in itself. They have gifts to share that cannot be described.

Perhaps just like the mother in the story I told, you met the Lord in your children—in the ordinary routine of everyday life—in the love and laughter of birth or birthdays—in the tears of love and sadness when someone has died.

If we are open and attentive, we will meet the Lord again and again just as the first disciples did in the experiences of life. Rejoice in it! As disciples go out and tell the whole world. Let your world know by your words and actions that you have seen him; that he lives! And in that telling you can be amazed just as Peter was because you will meet him again.