Homily 04 16 2017
Have you heard the story of the man whose hobby was growing roses? When he worked in his rose garden, he always whistled. It seemed to everyone that he was whistling much louder than was needed for his own enjoyment.
One day a neighbor asked him why it was that he always whistled so loudly. The man then took the neighbor into his home to meet his wife. The woman was not only an invalid, but was completely blind as well. The man, you see, was whistling, not for his benefit, but rather for the benefit of his wife. He wanted his blind wife to know that he was nearby, and that she was not alone.
That story is a wonderful illustration of the significance of Easter Day. The affirmation, "Christ is risen!" reminds us that God is near, and the experiencing of His presence strengthens us in our weakness. (Living the Easter Faith, Donald William Dotterer).
There is also a parable of the butterfly: As a butterfly soared overhead, one caterpillar said to the other, "You'll never get me up in one of those things!" Yet for every caterpillar the time comes when the urge to eat and grow subsides and he instinctively begins to form a chrysalis around himself.
The chrysalis hardens and you'd think for all the world that the caterpillar was dead. But one spring morning the life inside the chrysalis will begin to writhe, the top will crack open, and a beautifully-formed butterfly will emerge.
For hours it will stand stretching and drying its wings, moving them slowly up and down, up and down. And then, before you know it, the butterfly will glide aloft, effortlessly riding the currents of the air, alighting on flower after gorgeous flower, as if to show off its vivid colors to the bright blossoms.
Somehow, the miracle of the butterfly never loses its fascination for us.
Perhaps that is because the butterfly is a living parable of the promise of Resurrection.
On Easter morning, the disciples saw Jesus' grave-clothes on the cold slab empty, but still lying in the wrapped folds that had gone round and round the corpse. Only the corpse was gone, much like an empty chrysalis deserted by a butterfly which has left it to soar free. "He is risen as He said," an angel told the incredulous disciples.
And finally there is the story of a Real Easter Egg. A small chick begins the long journey to birth. The not-yet-a-bird weighs little more than air; its beak and claws are barely pin pricks. The bird-to-be is in its own little world: protected by the rigid shell, warmed by the mother hen’s body, nourished by the nutrients within the egg’s membrane.
But then the chick begins the work of life. Over several days the chick keeps picking and picking until it can break out from its narrow world — and into an incomparably wider one. But for this to happen, the egg has to go to pieces. New life demands shattering the old. That is the real Easter egg.
Not a complete egg dyed and painted with so many designs and colors.
Not an egg that has been hard boiled, impossible to shatter. Not an egg made of chocolate. The real Easter egg is shattered and destroyed. The real Easter egg exists in broken pieces. The real Easter egg is cracked and opened, yielding new life that has moved out to live in the open.
For centuries, the world has marked the Resurrection of the Lord with eggs. But the Easter meaning of the egg is found in the struggle of the chick to free itself from its confines so as to move into much bigger world beyond it. We struggle to break out of a world that we perceive is going to pieces; we pick away at an existence that leaves us dissatisfied and unfulfilled.
The promise of the Easter Christ is that we can break out of our self-contained little worlds and move into a world where peace and justice reign, a world illuminated by hope and warmed by love, a world that extends beyond time and place into the forever of God’s dwelling place. [From a meditation by Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B.].
Let’s remember that today's Gospel, this truly great news, is timeless and so is still for here and now. In a real sense, I am reflected by every person in that story, and should try to put myself within the story as told by Saint John today.
Am I like Magdalene who told the others the news of resurrection? Or like the apostles who responded immediately by running to the tomb to see for themselves.
I’m not exactly sure when I first heard about the resurrection of Jesus. But it was many years later when I personally experienced this for myself. The discovery came in moments of darkness and desolation, when I cried out to God for help. We all have our moments when we cry out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ But God does not forget or forsake us, and the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
On Easter morning, the stone was rolled away from the mouth of the tomb. Could I think of my heart as a tomb awaiting a resurrection? Can I identify anything akin to a stone that is holding me back from enjoying the fullness of life?
It could be an addiction, a compulsion, a resentment, or some hidden and dark secret that I have never shared with anyone.
We can be as sick as our secrets. But as our pope Francis puts it so well, “We are called to be people of joyful hope, not doomsday prophets!”
Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we can all have hopeful joy, and go out to share it with the world.