Homily for EASTER vigil and EASTER SUNDAY 2011
Two weeks ago, the film the Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson, was shown in the seminary. Though I’ve watched it before, but I still came to watch it again. But I was amazed of myself. On the part when Jesus was lashed by the soldiers, I couldn’t stay…It’s too much…It’s an exaggeration…The scourging was too much…that it seems to me, if that’s what happened to Jesus really, he would never survive…I just couldn’t imagine him carrying the cross later, when he could hardly stand up after torturing him. I left pondering what really could have happened to him if that’s how terrible the lashing was.
But tonight, I am reminded as you also are…that whether that “terrible” lashing or torturing is true or not…does not really matter…What matters now, is that He is risen from the dead…If he is not risen…as St Paul would say, our faith in him, would just be in vain…But no….After Good Friday, always comes the Easter Sunday…After Suffering, the victory always follow…
And because, Jesus triumphs over death, so we are called to celebrate, to rejoice with him, to sing the ALLELUIA again…just because He is risen…just because he is alive again…
We might wonder… “Yes, we know this by faith….that he is risen…so why make so much fuzz of all these rituals we’re doing? We lit the Easter Candles, then we share the light by lighting our own candles, we declare Christ as our Light, we process in, bearing our lighted candles, we incense the candles, we are asked to rejoice as a Church, in the singing of the exultet, we sang the Gloria again, we listened to a set of long readings, then plus this homily, then we’ll have our renewal of baptismal vows later, then the Holy Communion? Why do we have to do all these? Why do we have to spend hours here in the Church tonight?
The answer is why not? Why don’t we celebrate all night when we have something great to celebrate about? Why do we stay up late at night, even days or months, or a year even, celebrating with friends if our favourite footy team won the premiership. And when we celebrate, isn’t it always the case to remember and talked about that event that caused us to rejoice or celebrate?
Same thing here tonight, we are remembering God’s ultimate act of saving us, with the climax of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. So we heard a long series of Readings reminding us that God is always there with us from the beginning.
In Genesis, God is our creator and worthy of our trust and faith. In Exodus, he is the God who sets us free from slavery of Egypt. In Isaiah, he is the Lord who calls us and takes us back with great love, and quenches all thirst and satisfies our hunger. In Baruch, he is our God like no other. In Ezekiel, he is our God who gives us a new heart and places a new Spirit within us.
And more. In the New Testament, St Paul in his letter to the Romans, shows to us our God who chose to become one like us in all things but sin, and one who calls us to live a new life with him. And in our Gospel, we have the Good News of all, that Jesus Christ who suffered, died and was buried, is now risen and alive again. That is our God…and that’s how much he loved us…Isn’t it worth celebrating?
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead, is this not a great victory for us? He destroys death! Isn’t it a Good News? Yes, as humans as we are, we are afraid of death? We even try to cheat or bribe death at times, by taking all kind of things that we thought to be necessary to live a long, healthy and happy life.
But today Jesus shows us that death is not something to be afraid of…because it is not the end of everything…Our Gospel today tells us of the empty tomb…which points out to us…that even death has no power over us…because Christ has won this battle already for us…For Jesus, death is only a passage way to eternal life.
It’s true, we are afraid to die, because, it means for us darkness. End of everything we hope, we cherish, we dream of in this life…But today Jesus shows us as the light at the end of this deep and dark tunnel. So let’s celebrate this day! Let’s celebrate our salvation! Let’s rejoice. We are no longer in the darkness of sin, but are already in the light of Christ, that never fails us…
So let’s share this good news that Jesus is risen…and that resurrection is real. Alleluia…
At the University of Chicago Divinity School each year they have what is called ‘Baptist Day.’ On this day each one is to bring a lunch to be eaten outdoors in a grassy picnic area. Every ‘Baptist Day’ the school would invite one of the greatest minds to lecture in the theological education center.
One year they invited Dr. Paul Tillich. Dr.Tillich spoke for two and one-half hours proving that the resurrection of Jesus was false. He quoted scholar after scholar and book after book. He concluded that since there was no such thing as the historical resurrection the religious tradition of the church was groundless, emotional mumbo-jumbo, because it was based on a relationship with a risen Jesus, who, in fact never rose from the dead in any literal sense.
He then asked if there were any questions. After about 30 seconds, an old, dark skinned preacher with a head of short-cropped, woolly white hair stood up in the back of the auditorium. ‘Docta Tillich, I got one question,’ he said as all eyes turned toward him. He reached into his sack lunch and pulled out an apple and began eating it. ‘Docta Tillich.. CRUNCH, MUNCH ‘My question is a simple question,… CRUNCH,MUNCH… ‘Now, I ain’t never read them books you read..CRUNCH, MUNCH..’ and I can’t recite the Scriptures in the original Greek…CRUNCH, MUNCH …’ I don’t know nothin’ about Niebuhr and Heidegger… CRUNCH, MUNCH… He finished the apple. ‘All I wanna know is: This apple I just ate, . . . . . . was it bitter or sweet?
Dr Tillich paused for a moment and answered in exemplary scholarly fashion: ‘I cannot possibly answer that question, for I haven’t tasted your apple.’ The white-haired preacher dropped the core of his apple into his crumpled paper bag, looked up at Dr. Tillich and said calmly, ‘Neither have you tasted MY Jesus.’
The 1,000 plus in attendance could not contain themselves. The auditorium erupted with applause and cheers. Dr. Tillich thanked his audience and promptly left the platform.
Have you tasted Jesus? Savour HIS Words for you today.