HOMILY: Alive and At Work Around Us

BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of the Lord | April 1, 2018

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.

When I was young, Easter had such a beautiful rhythm to it.

As a family we would spend Good Friday watching our home parish perform a beautiful living stations.

Then we would all pile into the van and drive to Pittsburgh where my grandmother would be waiting.

Saturday evening we would sit in the dark of St. Alexis holding our candles and listening to my uncle sing the psalm.

And then Sunday would be the famous jelly bean hunt, in which we spent hours searching the house for jelly beans that my Nana, parents, and aunts and uncles had hid in everything from underneath the toilet seat to in the stick of butter.

It was comfortable.  It was familiar.  And it is where I encountered the Risen Christ every year.

In jelly beans and chocolate bunnies.  In car rides and goodbye waves from windowsills.  In water sprinkled, flickering candles, and my uncle’s beautiful baritone voice floating out over the assembly.

And I must admit, there are many a day when I wish I could go back.  Back to a time when life seemed straightforward and simple.

Because nothing about my life now feels simple or straightforward.

I am still settling into my new community, the third move in five years.

I am trying to prepare myself to take 10 students to Ecuador tomorrow morning for a week long service trip.

I spent a good chunk of my Holy Week sitting in a courtroom for the man who murdered my former student.

And I know that sitting on my computer is a never-ending to-do-list and an overflowing Inbox, a testament to my decision to split my life between two schools and a parish.

Where is Jesus amidst all the noise?  Amidst all the busyness?  Amidst all the brokenness?

But then I re-read the Gospel again for this Easter morning and I realized that maybe I am in good company.

For the disciples in our story are also looking back.  Back to a time in which everything seemed clear.  When Jesus was walking beside them, breaking bread around a table, speaking words that comforted and strengthened them.

A time before a betrayal and denial.

A time before a brutal execution.

A time before a tomb was sealed.

A time before an empty tomb was discovered.

See this Gospel paints a picture of confused and frightened women and men who are desperately searching for Jesus.  There are no Hallelujah choruses ringing out quite yet.

For these women and men had not yet discovered that everything has changed.

That the Jesus they seek is alive and at work in ways that could not have possibly imagined.

But in order to see him, they would need to stop looking back and look around.

They would need to be willing to change to encounter the God who is always doing something new.

And in this Easter Gospel I believe that we have a profound reminder for our own lives.

For I believe that we all have the moments in which we are nostalgic for elements of our past in which life seemed simpler, in which we felt in control, in which everything was going well.

But in clinging to those empty tombs, we can miss the profound message that is at the heart of this entire season, the message that is at the heart of our faith.

Which is that our God is alive.  Jesus is risen from the dead.

And he is present to us in every circumstance of our lives, if we are willing to open our eyes and see.  If we are willing to embrace the change that is part of the journey.

He is in the laughter of our children as they search for Easter eggs and in the quiet comfort of a friend who holds us tight when our hearts are raw.  He is the sunrise that warms our face as we drive into work and in the soft gentle rain that glisten on the windowpane as we sip our cup of coffee.

He is in our relationships as we fall in love, when we hit our rocky patches, as the newborn baby wakes us up for the umpteenth time, as we wait for our teen to come home and as we snuggle together on the couch after a long day.

He is with us as we take the new job, step into our new home, walk across the stage and grasp the diploma.  He is with us when we are told there is nothing more they can do and when the note says that they’re downsizing the company and when our spouse says I can’t do this anymore.

He is present in our son struggling with an addiction and in our mother who is grappling with dementia.  We see his face when we gaze upon the homeless man panhandling and we hear his voice speaking Spanish in the check-out line behind us.

And yes, he is with us here in this Church.  In water sprinkled and scriptures proclaimed, in hands outstretched and bread broken.  In music sung and love shared.

Truly he is making all things new.  If only we have eyes to see and hearts to believe.

Here we are once again at the start of another Easter season.

May we have the courage to leave the tomb and encounter the Christ who is alive and at work around us and within us this day. Happy Easter my dear, dear friends.  May God be Praised

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