April 19, 2017
Paulist Fr. Mark-David Janus, president of Paulist Press, gave this homily on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017, at our mother church, the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, in New York City.
The guards, Roman guards,
The most fearsome soldiers the world has ever known,
were afraid-paralyzed with fear;
so freighted they fell like they were dead
The women at the tomb were afraid;
His friends, so afraid they locked themselves in a room
So afraid they couldn’t make themselves believe
what the women finally told them.
The priests were so afraid they paid people to broadcast
Pilate was so afraid he believed the alternative facts.
People were afraid of the resurrection.
So the angel in snow white says: “Do not be afraid.”
Jesus, even Jesus, says, “do not to be afraid.”
The first Easter message is: do not be afraid of the resurrection.
That surprises me-
Why should anyone be afraid of the resurrection?
I understand being afraid of the cross.
The Romans crucified people – not to kill them,
Killing people is as fast and easy as the flick of a sword.
The Roman did not practice crucifixion to kill-
The Romans practiced crucifixion to terrify others.
Pilate wrote Jesus’ sign in Hebrew Latin and Greek
Because he wanted everyone who walked past
to be afraid
to watch their step
to fall in line
to watch what they said and to whom they said it.
You bomb Palm Sunday Mass in Cairo,
You bomb a subway in St. Petersburg,
A soccer team in Germany,
To make people afraid.
You drive trucks into crowds in France and Sweden
You shoot people in Brussels, Paris and Orlando
Not just because you want to kill people
But because you want to make people afraid.
You gas women and children in Syria
To make other people afraid.
You beat men holding hands in the Netherlands and Chechnya
to make other people afraid.
Girls are kidnapped out of Schools in Nigeria,
Women assaulted on public buses in Mumbai,
Women are harassed in the workplace,
Even shot in classrooms,
To make them afraid, compliant, obedient, servile.
Border patrol agents enter schools
To talk to children who are citizens of the USA
So their immigrant parents will be afraid of losing their family.
Bullying on playgrounds, sexting on Snapchat,
Rumors are tweeted, all by children
who wish to make other children afraid.
But we should not be afraid of the resurrection.
We should not be afraid it is too good to be true.
We should not be afraid we are wrong
When we believe God raised Jesus from the dead.
Do not be afraid, the Risen Christ tells us,
Do not be afraid of loving a crucified world.
Do not be afraid of being merciful.
Do not be afraid to be gentle.
Do not be afraid to cry.
Do not be afraid to comfort and be comforted.
Do not be afraid to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Do not be afraid to be peacemakers.
Do not be afraid of being persecuted in the cause of justice.
Do not be afraid of living in the kingdom of God
That has already begun.
Sisters and brothers, eternal life has already started,
It is here, now, there is no other life to live.
Our death is one chapter in an eternity of love lived with God.
Do not be afraid of being in love with God right now.
Do not be afraid to feed the hungry,
Give drink to the thirsty, Clothe the naked.
Do not be afraid to give company to the lonely
To visit those in prison.
Do not be afraid of coming to the aid of those
life has beaten and left on the side of the road.
Do not be afraid of forgiving those who have sinned against you.
Do not be afraid of the stranger.
Do not be afraid of your neighbor.
Do not be afraid of yourself.
Do not be afraid
Because the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead
Lives in your heart and with the same love
will raise you to everlasting love
in that place beyond space and time
Where God lives and loves forever and ever.
Jesus’s message to the women is: “Get the disciples back into Galilee,
Tell them not to be afraid to go back to where it all began;”
Back to where they first met him,
Back to the place where they live their lives.
Go back, not because this is all over,
But because real life has just begun.
Go back into life, and there you will see the Risen Lord.
Do you want to see the Risen Lord?
Pope Francis reminds us time and time again
That the Risen Lord is to be seen
in the worried faces we reassure,
The hungry mouths we feed,
The tired hands whose burden we pick up
the sore feet we massage
the aching hearts we comfort.
He can be felt in the backs of those we hug,
In all who are poor
In all in need of our care.
Resurrection is not a delusion, an escape from real life;
It is an invitation to enter real life.
Real life happens when we are
no longer afraid of the love our heart wants to give.
No longer afraid to befriend the stranger.
No longer afraid of pouring out our lives for others.
No longer afraid of being merciful.
No longer afraid of standing with and for those who suffer.
Satan and all his works are very busy
But we no longer are afraid of him-
No longer can he stop us from loving.
We are in fact eager to confront, reject and overcome evil.
Sisters and brothers, Jesus is Risen,
We are the first fruits of the Risen Christ.
We are his revelation;
Our beautiful energies making room for his love;
And starting with ourselves
Making of an old world a new world
Loved, forgiven and renewed by the love of God.
When you leave this Church
Do not be afraid to live the love in your hearts.
Do not be afraid to announce with your lives
Christ is Risen!
Happy Easter! Amen.