Sunday, May 1, 2011

Homily for Vespers- 2nd Sunday of Easter

Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9

Seeing is believing, or that’s what we’re often told. Think for a minute. How many things do you believe that you do not see? One standard example of this is to ask someone if they believe in the North Pole. When they answer “Yes,” a follow-up question is asked: Have you ever been there? Given the paucity of people who have ever been to the North Pole, the typical answer is, “No”. Is the implication here that you should stop believing in the North Pole because you have never been there? Well, I for one certainly hope not! You see you believe there is a North Pole because you trust the ones who told you it is there, people like your teachers, your parents, even explorers who make documentaries and write about their experience of traveling to this unique point on the earth, many of which include glossy color pictures. Far from being considered wise and intelligent for disbelieving those on whose testimony most people rely, you’d be considered a little wacky, if not a tad insane, even if you are from Missouri, the "show me" state.

We come to believe in Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead on the testimony of witnesses. Our patroness, St. Mary Magdalene, is known as the apostula apostulorum, that is, the "apostle to the apostles" precisely because she was the first witness of this glorious event. As a result of her testimony, some of the apostles hurriedly made their way to Jesus’ tomb. Do you think if they did not find her credible they would have bothered to go? They believed her because, like them, she was a disciple of Jesus. She was known to them. She was one of the women who took care of them, providing for them materially. But her testimony was an invitation, echoing the words of her Lord and God as spoken to John and Andrew, who, we are told in St. John’s Gospel, were disciples of John the Baptist who were so taken with Jesus upon seeing him and hearing their master, say, "Behold, the Lamb of God" (John 1:36), that they followed Him, causing Jesus to bid them "Come and you will see." (John 1:39)

It begins by the testimony of witnesses, of people we know, people we trust, not just now, but people through the ages, spanning the millennia between now and when the event of Jesus’ resurrection occurred, what the author of the Letter to the Hebrews described as a "great a cloud of witnesses." (Heb. 12:1) My friends, we, too, can experience the risen Lord. Where, you might ask. In the sacraments, which are always encounters with the Risen One. In baptism we die, are buried, and rise to new life. In confirmation He anoints us, incorporating us more fully into His priestly people. We meet him in confession, the Tribunal of Divine Mercy, where the only defense allowed is saying we are sorry with all our hearts. Most of all we meet Him in the Eucharist, the sacramentum caritatis, the great sacrament of God’s love, in which He gives Himself to us again and again so that we not only see, but also taste the goodness of God and believe.

Jesus, I trust in you

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