Homily for Easter Sunday 2016
Scriptures for today's Mass
Have you ever been just about done with a big piece of work
when someone shows up, much too late, and asks,
“Is there anything I can do to help you?”
Every one of us is just such a Johnny-come-lately,
arriving this Easter at the empty tomb and finding,
as did Mary of Magdala, that the stone has been rolled back for us,
the heavy work had already been done
- long before we got here.
And that’s a good way of saying what Easter is all about:
the heavy work has already been done for us, for you and for me.
And not just the heavy work of moving the stone that sealed Jesus’ tomb.
There was also the heavy work of Good Friday.
The work of being unjustly accused and condemned – on our account.
The work of being mocked, spat upon and crowned with thorns;
the work of carrying a Cross to one’s own execution;
of suffering the nails of crucifixion;
the work of dying for others;
all that work has already been done for us, for you and for me.
But more than that - and weightiest of all work:
carrying on one’s shoulders
the sin and guilt of all humankind, including yours and mine,
that work has been done for us, for you and for me.
That’s the mercy of God.
That’s the mercy of Jesus, the most innocent of all, who suffered,
who did the heavy lifting for us, that we might be spared.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still some work left for us to do.
It’s not too late to do what Mary of Magdala did
when she found that the heavy work had been done for her -
she went home to tell her friends.
If, this Easter, we realize what Jesus has done for us,
then ours is the work of sharing news of that with others,
with whomever we might meet later today.
Sharing our faith in Jesus might seem to many of us
to be very hard work - but it needn’t be.
Some folks might rather try to move the stone away from the tomb
than have to talk to others about their faith.
Suppose on the way home from church, in your car,
or wherever you’re going for Easter dinner
or in a phone conversation sometime today,
suppose you were to ask the simple question,
“What does Easter mean to you?”
(You can even tell the person you’re speaking with
that the priest at Mass said you should do this!)
Listen to what the other person says and then take a few minutes,
maybe just a few sentences, to say what Easter means to you.
You might simply share that Easter gives you hope
or reassures you of God’s forgiveness,
or prompts you to live a better Christian life.
You might say that Easter this year has caused you to think again
about God and faith and prayer in your life.
You might just say that Easter reminds you
that the heavy work of your faith has already been done for you
and that now, your work, is to live in gratitude
for what God has done.
Or this weekend, when the talk turns to Brussels and terrorism,
to the election and the candidates, to immigration and the economy,
perhaps you’ll do the work of wondering aloud,
“Whadda ya think Easter has to do with these issues?”
How do all of us Johnny-come-latelys,
standing outside the empty tomb
where the stone has been rolled away,
how do we, like Mary and Peter and the others,
carry the news of the Risen Jesus.
Late though we may be,
when we ask the Lord, “Anything I can do to help?”
we can be sure that he’s got plenty of work for us to do.
But for now, our work is to come to this table, his altar,
and to move nothing heavier than our hearts,
however heavy our hearts might be this Easter,
to move and lift our hearts up to the Lord with thanksgiving
that all the heavy lifting he did for us on the Cross
is now his gift to us in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.
Jesus Christ is risen from the dead
and he’s got a little work for us to do.
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