Deacon Cornellís Homily

Readings:

Acts 10:34a, 37-43
1 Corinthians 5: 6b-8
Mark 16:1-7

Date: April 4, 2021, Easter Sunday, Cycle B

There are two types of people in the world: those who need closure....

The Gospel reading we just heard is 7 of the last 8 verses in Mark's original Gospel. Most of our bibles today include one of two later additions to Mark's original. The last verse which we did not here is:

Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

So like the joke I told, Mark leaves us hanging. Nothing about any post resurrection sighting that are in the other 3 Gospels and even in some of Paul's letters like 1 Corinthians which was written some 15 years before Mark's Gospel. So it wasn't that Mark didn't know about any. Why would he end his Gospel so abruptly, leaving the reader with no closure? Some commentators suggest that he did this on purpose to drive home the point that the story was not over, but to complete it, the reader had to fill in the rest.

I assume that is why all of you are here this morning, that is why you show up at Mass Sunday after Sunday. The story, of God become human, suffering, dying and rising from the dead is not over By our sacraments of initiation of baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist we are given the mission of completing the work Jesus was sent to start: establishing the kingdom of God fully here on earth. So how do we do that? In a few minutes, we will renew those baptismal promises and in our response we will outline how we carry out that mission. And remember, in the Creed when we say we believe we mean that this belief changes who we are and how we live. It is not just an intellectual acknowledgment that something is true.

The first reality that we will be asked to profess our belief in is: Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth? Am I prepared to say I believe that? In order to say yes, I have to be prepared to say that I believe that creation has meaning, life has meaning, my life and your life have meaning. And (here is the hard part) that that meaning is NOT one that I assign to it. The origin of my life, the purpose of my life, and the destiny of my life are assigned to me; I don't determine it; my role is to discover it. I am creature, not creator. That is counter to everything our culture tells me. Am I prepared to say that I will live as if  I am creature, working for God's agenda to make this creation paradise?

The second reality we will be asked to profess our belief in is: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, Our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? In order to say yes to that, I have to be prepared to say that, even though humans are not creator but creature, even though human beings are not in charge and their value is determined for them, the value of each human being is so great, so precious, so incredibly awesome that God became one of us! And not only did God become human but he suffered and died and rose from the dead so that our humanity might share in God's divinity! If human life is that precious, and that incredibly awesome, how must I treat each human being that I come in contact with, starting with myself? How must I treat my family and friends and neighbors and strangers and even enemies? Am I prepared to say that I will live as if each human life is that incredibly awesome?

And lastly, we will be asked to profess our belief in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Only lately have I begun to understand that all of those are aspects of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who draws us out of ourselves into relationship with God and with others. In order to say I believe in the Spirit, I have to be prepared to say I believe that the primary way that God relates to us is God and US, not God and ME. Am I prepared to say that faith and religion are not private relationships with God but have their primary meaning in God's relationship with a community? Am I prepared to say that I am willing to let the the Holy Spirit move me to let the commuities I belong to form me, and to do my best to help form them to be better?

The last thing I want to do is to celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord by perjuring myself in church. So there are only two things that make me foolish enough to renew these promises. The first is my trust in the Resurrection. God raising Jesus from the dead means that God is ready to do anything to bring about his will of having us complete this story. The second is that I am not going to say I believe all by myself. I am going to say I believe in the midst of all of you saying that you believe as well. Without this communion of believers I don't know that I would have the courage to profess this belief. But with you together as the Body of Christ, and the power of God demonstrated in the Resurrection, let us all have the courage to profess: I believe.

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