Deacon Cornell's Homily


Acts 10:34,37-43
Colossians 3:1-4
John 20-1:9


April 9, 2023, Easter Sunday

A taxi driver and a priest died at the same time and they both appeared together at the pearly gates. St. Peter, motioned to the taxi driver to follow him and then led the taxi to this enormous mansion with a 120 inch TV and well stocked bar in the den, a heated pool and full exercise room, beautiful paintings on the wall and a full time butler and masseuse, and told him that this was where he would live in heaven. The taxi driver stood there speechless and then just said, I can't begin to thank you. St. Peter then motioned for the priest to follow him and he led the priest to small shack with the barest necessities and told him that this was where he would live in heaven. The priest was stunned but he finally blurted out, "But St. Peter, I was a priest. I went to church every day and I preached the Word of God!" St. Peter replied, "Yes but when you preached, everyone fell asleep; but when that taxi driver drove, everyone prayed!"

In some Eastern Catholic churches, there is a tradition of telling jokes on Easter because our laughing symbolizes the fact that, with the resurrection, God has the last laugh on Satan, who thought he had won with Jesusí death. But I think there is some serious wisdom in this joke. It is not so much about what our job, or title, or role is in life, but how we do it. And it is not just about whether we are doing that job correctly or not. Obviously the taxi driver was not doing his job correctly but that is the very thing that caused his passengers to pray!

Mary of Magdala, Simon Peter, and the disciple whom Jesus loved all saw the empty tomb but the Gospel passage says that they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. But when Peter and John left the tomb, Mary stayed behind, weeping because of her deep love for Jesus and she is the first one to see the risen Lord.

What does this mean for us, today especially? One of the things that is different about our celebration of Mass on Easter Sunday is that instead of reciting the Creed as we do on other Sundays, we instead renew our baptismal vows. Of course the intent is the same, and hopefully our explicit renewal of our baptismal vows today, will remind us that is exactly what we are doing every time we come to Mass. Eucharist is one of the 3 sacraments of initiation along with baptism and confirmation.

By our baptism and confirmation we became something new; we were given a title, a role and along with that, a job or as we call it in the Church, a mission. By our baptism and confirmation we became Christians; by our anointing in both of those sacraments, we were commissioned as members of the Body of Christ to be active and effective participants in bringing about the kingdom of God here on earth. Because this is God's plan for saving creation, we know that it will come to fruition. But for some reason known only to God, we human beings have been chosen to be the only instruments through which God's plan will be accomplished. So in other words, when God's plan will be accomplished is in our hands. So while it is good we started with some humor, we are gathered here today for something that is extremely serious and important. We are here to deepen our commitment to the mission we have been called to by baptism, to bring about the salvation of the world. How long that will take depends on how we carry out our mission. If we are half hearted about it, or keep pushing it to the background as we go about our lives, it will take longer. And that means that the trouble that we see in the world around us, whether globally or in our own lives, will continue for a little longer. In real terms that means that hunger, and war, and bullying, and injustice, will continue for a little longer, which means that real people will experience real suffering.

Carrying out our mission is not easy. It will be met with resistance, just as Jesus was met with resistance. We are called by our baptisms to live our lives the way Jesus did, loving others the way Jesus loves us. Understanding what it means to be baptized, to be anointed to be the Body of Christ, the incarnation of God's self emptying love for each other here and now means understanding that in some ways we are called to live the way that led the leaders in Jerusalem 2,000 ago to seek to put Jesus to death. The anointing that is part of our baptism and confirmation is a symbol of the Holy Spirit; and our becoming more fully the Body of Christ together at Eucharist symbolizes the fact that God has given us the strength and the courage to accomplish our mission, and that we don't do it alone: we are accompanied along the way by the Holy Spirit, and we we carry out our mission as the body of Christ which includes all of us along with Jesus our head.

Our celebration of the Resurrection today reminds us that even out of really terrible situations like the crucifixion, God can bring amazing good. My prayer today is that we all renew our baptismal vows with full understanding of what that calls us to. And that committed to what that calls us to, we come forward to the table of the Lord to deepen and strengthen our resolve to carry out our mission to be the Body of Christ who comes into the world to save it. And when we are sent out at the end of mass, let us live out that deepening, that strengthening, so that Christ our life will appear that much sooner, and salvation will come in full sooner rather than later.

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