Lynne Smith’s Homily from Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lynne Smith, OSB Homilies Leave a Comment

Easter Sunday                                                                                             Lynne Smith, OSB

John 20:1-18


We might ask with Mary this morning: Where is Jesus? In her loss, suffering and grief Mary is distraught: “They have taken Jesus away and we do not know where they have laid him.” She wants this one last connection with him – to care for his dead body. But “they”, the violent forces at work in the world have deprived her even of this.

Many forces in our world threaten our connection with Jesus. Violence, suffering, injustice, even busy-ness can cause us to question: Where is Jesus? Where is Jesus when innocent people are killed in bombings in Belgium or in Syria? Where is Jesus when a three year-old boy drowns at sea as his family flees the destruction of their homeland? Where is Jesus when you lose your job? Where is Jesus when your child dies or you suffer life-threatening illness?

Moments of crisis and suffering can threaten to “take away” our intimate connection with Jesus. Those moments shake our faith. Suffering and violence threatens to destroy our hope. When a crisis or death occurs, we may go through a time when prayer doesn’t “work” as it used to. We can’t “find Jesus.” It seems as if our relationship with him is fractured. Like Mary we long for the relationship we used to have. The story of Jesus’ resurrection tells us where and how to look for Jesus at times when our faith is shaken.

Mary is looking for Jesus’ body. She wants the physical connection she once had with him that was cut short by his violent death. That’s the only way she knows to relate to this one whom she loves. But when she peers into the tomb through her tears she sees only emptiness. Even a vision of angels cannot break through her grief. “Where is Jesus? I do not know where they have laid him?”

In times of crisis and despair, weeping is often our first step to finding Jesus. We mourn our loss: the loss of a loved one, the loss of a peaceful world, the loss of our self image. We mourn the loss of the kind of life we had hoped for.

In our mourning we are tempted to turn back to what was. Mary turned around from the tomb and saw Jesus but still didn’t recognize him. Because she was only looking for his dead body, she could not perceive his living presence. She had to turn again from the way she had previously known Jesus toward a new way of knowing him.

Standing weeping outside the tomb, Mary hears a familiar voice call her name. John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus is the one who knows his own by name. His own know his voice and follow him. Speaking her name, Jesus calls Mary to her heart which recognizes Jesus’ voice. In the midst of crisis, suffering and loss, our weeping hearts search for love and the beloved. Searching, we tune our hearts to the sound of Jesus’ voice of love, mercy and challenge.  We learn to hear his voice through prayer and silence, through scripture and attending to creation, and through the experience of love. The love we hear endures beyond death and draws us into life.

Jesus has been glorified and lives with God, his God and our God. The resurrection assures us that Jesus also lives among us, the community of believers. We who love him are all brothers and sisters of Jesus. Now the place where we find the body of Jesus is here in the gathered community of disciples at this table.

When we have turned and turned again in our mourning and heard the voice of love, and when we have encountered the body of Jesus within the gathered community, we are moved to announce the good news to others: “We have seen the Risen Christ.”

Our world needs the hope we can bring through our love relationship with Jesus. Because Jesus is risen, life is possible in the face of tragedy and death. Because Jesus, who lives with God, also lives among us as his sisters and brothers, we continue to bring forth the life he came to give through mercy and forgiveness. Because Jesus lives in our hearts we can be his presence in the midst of darkness and suffering. We can be those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison. When we are in touch with the deepest desires of our hearts, we can connect with others who have the same desires to bring forth possibilities we had not imagined before: peace, healing, joy, new life.

At this table Jesus calls your name. At this table in the midst of the community we hear his voice and touch his body among his sisters and brothers. It is here we experience the new life possible through his presence in the community.




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