Homily for Easter Sunday 2007

When the risen Jesus appears to the disciples, “he showed them his hands and his side” in the Gospel of St. John, the whole account of the appearance of Jesus focuses more on the wounds than on his resurrection.  We remember when Thomas comes back and hears about the appearance of Jesus, all he wants to do is to touch the wounds.

Whey does a story about the risen Christ focus so much on his wounds?  It is because he is wounded and raised.  When we think about the resurrection, we may be tempted to think that it is a stage in Jesus’ life.  He died and then he arose and put hurt and death behind him.  One might think that being wounded and dead are things of the past after the resurrection, just episodes from an earlier moment in his story.

But in the resurrection the Father gives back to Jesus the whole of his life, all that he has lived.  He is now the wounded and risen Christ.  This is vital because it means that the risen Lord is now in touch with the wounded humanity.  All over the world human beings are being wounded, wounded by harsh words, wounded in war, broken in accidents, betrayed in relationships, disappointed in hopes.  Good Friday, you could say, goes on all over the world.  If the resurrection was Jesus simply putting all that behind him, like a person who leaves hospital recovered from wounds, then he would have nothing to do with us now.  We may hope for the resurrection as future comfort, but now we would be stuck in the hurt and pain, remote from God.

When we express our faith in the risen Lord, we express our faith in Him as one who shares our pain so that we might now share His life.

The disciples were locked in a room for fear of the Jews.  They have seen what has happened to Jesus and they fear that it might happen to them too.  But it is the wounded Lord who says to them, “peace be with you” and sends them on their way.  Of course they and we will get hurt but we can embrace that risk with courage because the one who is raised is the wounded Christ.

We all have our secure upper rooms in which we hide from hurt.  Every one of us has his or her fears, against which we lock the doors.  This fear of getting hurt may mean that we do not even want to know too much about the sufferings of others.

If we do venture out of our safe places into this dangerous world and risk getting hurt then we shall surely be afraid.  Courage, however, is not being without fear; it is refusing to be enslaved by it.

The horrifying story of Good Friday, of violence, hatred and cruelty ends with an immense ray of hope on Easter Morning.  Death does not have the last word.  Violence and hate have been transformed into tenderness and forgiveness through the power of God, the word of God made flesh.  As disciples of the risen Lord we become a source of peace for our divided, broken world.

I conclude with a prayer which I came across recently: “God, who we meet in bread and wine, in body broken and blood outpoured, fill us with your compassion, that we may hear the cries of the hungry and reach out to those in need.  Engender in us a thirst for justice that the hungry may be satisfied and the rich sent empty away.  Roll away our apathy that, with arms outstretched, we may offer life in place of death and hope in the face of despair. Amen”.

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