Rolling Stones and Toppling Worlds

BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of the Lord | April 21, 2019

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

As many of you know, being an educator is one of the great joys of my life.

I relish the challenge of connecting with students who are difficult.

The ones who are jaded or hate school.

The ones who doubt God and are over the Church.

The ones who are struggling or who have been traumatized.

These are the kids I always treasure.

But last year, I was confronted with a student that I genuinely felt powerless to help.

We had already been through so much together.

The death of his cousin.

Court trials and juvenile detention.

And then the revolving door of the educational system that kept shuffling him from school to school.

But when he hit his bout with depression, it was as if he slipped into a deep cavern where I couldn’t reach him.

I remember walking home, climbing into my car, and crying.  I’m losing him, “I whispered.”

That rock seemed firmly wedged in front of the tomb. And nothing was going to move it.

But then, my next visit, it was as if I was encountering a new student.

He greeted me with a warm embrace.

He chattered on about the SAT he was taking, college applications that needed completing, and grief that he was finally processing.

I couldn’t help it.  I started to cry. I didn’t know how, but the rock had been rolled away.  

He stared at me for a moment and said, “It’s okay, Fr. Brian.  It’s okay. I’m back. And I’m not going anywhere.”

And in his story, I could not help but hear echoes of the story we celebrate this morning.

For when Mary arrives it is the stone that is rolled away that topples her world.

For that stone was not supposed to ever move again.

It was to remain, forever sealing shut the hopes and dreams of the disciples that appeared to die on Calvary.

But here it was, rolled away. And with that discovery, Mary knew that everything had changed.

She didn’t know what.  She didn’t know how. And she didn’t know what it all meant.

But she knew that nothing would ever be the same again.

My friends, each of us arrives this morning with our tombs that have been sealed shut with rocks that we assume will never move.

We have those stubborn flaws within us that we just cannot seem to overcome

We’re jealous or petty.  Gossipy or vindictive. Lazy or consumed by an addiction.

We have these resentments that we desperately cling to, heedless of the call to forgive.

We have these ruptures and wounds within our family that seem beyond reconciliation or healing.

The estranged brother.  The mother we are losing to Alzheimer’s. The child who has moved away with their partner. The marriage that fell apart. The miscarriages that are quietly borne.

We look at our nation and world and genuinely believe that nothing will change.

We look away from the homeless man panhandling on the sidewalk.  We shake our heads as bombs fall in Syria and desperate refugees cling to fences in Mexico and the sides of boats in the Mediterranean.  We hear the warnings about global warming and shrug our shoulders. We see the ever deepening divisions driven by our polarized politics and we sigh, “What will be will be.”

But into all of our complacency and frustration, our cynicism and weary resignation, our Lord bursts forth and rolls away the stone. Toppling our worlds as we know them.

Declaring that all will be made new.

That there is no stone that cannot be rolled away.

Like Mary, we may not know what awaits us in the empty tomb.  We may not know how the stone will be moved. And we may not know what it all means.

But we are invited to be courageous with Mary and approach the tomb anyway.

For we have hope.

That our stones do not have the final word this day.

Our God does.

This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Happy Easter my friends.

May God be Praised.

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