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Homily for Easter Sunday 2019

An old soldier, blind and paralyzed, lay in his bed in the Veteran’s Hospital. He’d been there a long, long time. He was sad and alone!

But, now, he had a new roommate! And, unlike the “grouches” who’d been there before, this new man, in the bed next to him, was jolly and filled with hope!

One day, the old soldier asked the new man – (whose bed was beside the window) – to tell him about what was going on outside!

The new man responded with gusto! He described, in vivid detail, the breathtaking beauty of the spring flowers that were bursting into bloom; and all the various kinds of birds that were flitting through the azure sky and hopping across the lush, green lawn. He described the hard-working postman making his late-morning rounds, the boisterous children who were riding their bikes gliding along on their skate boards or electric scooters — and much, much more!

The new man’s descriptions of the “outside world” became an important and much-anticipated, “daily ritual” – the man by the window helping the old, blind, paralyzed soldier to CONNECT with the WONDERFUL WORLD OUTSIDE!

One day, however, the man by the window died, and his bed was taken by a new patient.
It was with great anxiety, that the old soldier eventually asked him, “Would you please describe for me what’s going on outside our window, today?

The new roommate, opened the blinds, looked out the window, and said, “I don’t know what good it will do! There’s nothing outside this window, but a BRICK WALL!”

FAITH is a DIFFICULT THING! It always has been!

“IS THIS LIFE ALL THAT THERE IS?” — THAT IS THE QUESTION which has weighed heavily on the human heart ever since our first ancestors began to REFLECT on the INEVITABILITY of their OWN DEATH!

And, while WE WANT “TO BELIEVE,” with every fiber of our being that there is SOMETHING MORE in store for us; the ROUTINENESS of LIFE, its pains and disappointments, its difficulties, and times of great sadness, sometimes seem to tell us just the OPPOSITE!

THAT’S WHY, over two thousand years ago, God sent His own Son, JESUS to “TELL” us in WORD – and to “SHOW” us in DEED – about the “SOMETHING MORE” that awaits each and every one of us – “BEYOND” what sometimes “seem” like the “brick walls” of our lives!

When we were “blind” to the “beyond the wall” – and “paralyzed” by our fear, Jesus Christ came to tell us about God, His Father, who is: LOVING and FORGIVING; COMPASSIONATE and MERCIFUL beyond all reason – in dealing with both hardened sinners; and with those of us who occasionally loose our way!

When we were “blind” to the “beyond the wall” and “paralyzed” by our fears, Jesus came to tell us about His Father, God, who: HEARS the cries of those who are unjustly treated and oppressed… and who LISTENS CLOSELY to those whom everyone else REFUSES to give ear!

When we were “blind” to the “beyond the wall” and paralyzed” by our fears, Jesus came to tell us that God, His Father, IS OUR FATHER, as well; and that far from being “throwaways” – YOU and I are DESTINED for something VERY SPECIAL and WONDERFUL!

And, all the while that Jesus was “telling us” about “the beyond the wall” that is OUR FINAL and ETERNAL DESTINY; He was “SHOWING” us the FACE OF His FATHER (and of OUR Father-GOD), in his DEEDS.

For example, Jesus showed us a God who cares about such mundane things as saving a newly-married couple from the embarrassment of running short of wine at their wedding reception!

Jesus showed us a God who goes out of His way to “search out” and “befriend” sinners and outcasts — Jesus showed us a God who is constantly reassuring us – that no matter what we may have done, in the past; we are still and always will be: PRECIOUS, BEAUTIFUL, and IRREPLACEABLE in OUR FATHER-GOD’S EYES.

Jesus, God’s own Son – showed us the “face” of a God who has all the time in the world for those whom the world “dismisses” as counting for VERY LITTLE: children, the lame, the deaf and the blind — homeless beggars and lepers, prostitutes and tax collectors!

In curing the sick, forgiving sinners and raising the dead, Jesus showed us a GOD whose ULTIMATE VISION FOR US (“beyond the wall”) IS that we be WHOLE and HAPPY and FILLED with LIFE ——– LIFE EVERLASTING!

And finally, at the LAST MEAL that he shared with his friends; Jesus showed us a God who is ANXIOUS to “NOURISH US” with HIS OWN BODY and BLOOD – to give us STRENGTH when life threatens to “overwhelm” us; and to remind us that whatever life brings us (on “this side” of “the wall”) – we are NEVER ALONE! BECAUSE – God is “with” us and “in” us!

Jesus, God’s own Son, came to TELL us, and SHOW us WHAT REALLY COUNTS WITH GOD (in His Kingdom, “beyond the wall.”):
– Not what we “have,” BUT what we “give.”
– Not how many people call us “boss,” BUT how many people we “serve.”
– Not how irreproachable and sinless our life is; BUT how compassionate, merciful – loving and forgiving we are of others, and of ourselves!

And, lest ALL THIS sound too good to be true; lest we be tempted to dismiss the words and deeds of Jesus as mere “wishful thinking”; (as looking at a BRICK WALL and making up wonderful stories about what is BEYOND) — JESUS died a very public death on a cross; was buried in a borrowed tomb; and was RAISED to NEW LIFE by his FATHER-GOD on the third day….. RAISED to a NEW LIFE that CANNOT BE TOUCHED BY DEATH!

(Tonight/this morning), we, and countless millions of men and women, and boys and girls, throughout the world, have gathered, in faith, to CELEBRATE an EMPTY TOMB! — And, in celebrating that empty tomb, of the first Easter morning, we are celebrating God our Father’s VALIDATION of EVERYTHING that His Son, Jesus TOLD us and SHOWED us (of the “SOMETHING MORE beyond the wall!”)

The EMPTY TOMB is our ASSURANCE that what Jesus told us and showed us about God, and about how God wants us to live is TRUE!

The EMPTY TOMB – of the RESURRECTED CHRIST – is our GUARANTEE that Jesus’ PROMISES can be TRUSTED! (Trusted with our very lives!)

EASTER and ITS EMPTY TOMB is the PROMISE that: pain and suffering; and sadness and death are NOT meant to have the LAST WORD! And that, one day, you and I (with Jesus) will CHEAT DEATH of its victory — BECAUSE GOD has MADE US FOR LIFE!!! – For unimaginable, exciting, and ETERNAL LIFE! — And God raised his Son, Jesus, from the dead to PROVE IT!

(Lengthy pause)

“It became a ‘daily ritual’ – the man by the window – ‘helping’ the old, blind, paralyzed soldier to ‘connect with’ the world outside!”

On this Easter (eve/morning), my brothers and sisters, let us TRUST in the GOOD NEWS THAT JESUS CHRIST has “BROKEN THROUGH” THE WALL created by death – and OPENED for us – a WORLD of HOPE without LIMITS!

AT THE EASTER VIGIL:

Tonight, our CANDIDATES for Baptism or Full Communion with the Catholic Church: Jeffrey “J.J.” Jahries (Geris); Rebecca Wang; Erin Walsh; Michael Walsh; Sebastian Walsh; and Madeline Walsh – ARE LIVING SIGNS of what the RISEN LORD is STILL accomplishing in our world today…. of what the RISEN LORD is accomplishing right HERE in the midst of our faith community of All Hallows!

We “veteran” INITIATES in the faith, REJOICE with them! — IN their enthusiasm and happiness, we gain ENCOURAGEMENT! — IN their faith, our faith is STRENGTHENED! — As we witness their sacramental death to sin and resurrection to new life in Jesus Christ, we will RENEW our own COMMITMENT to follow the One who died and rose for us. — And so, OUR stories will join THEIR stories; as their stories join GOD’S.