EASTER SUNDAY HOMILY

EASTER SUNDAY HOMILY: VICTORY IS WON AND YOU ARE A WITNESS
As the Psalmist said, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad." Why is this day so important in the salvation history? It is so important because "our birthday would have been no gain, had we not been redeemed" by Jesus Christ. The resurrection has won victory for us, Christians. For without resurrection, there would have been no Christianity, no mystical body of Christ, the Church. In fact, we would not have been here today. And even we have come together, perhaps, it would have been for something else. True or false?
How did the resurrection of Jesus Christ happen? Who was an eye-witness to it? Let us cast our mind back to what the Scripture tells us about his resurrection. The Scripture says that early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been moved from the tomb. So, Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "they have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him". Simon Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see things by themselves. The other disciple ran faster than Simon Peter, bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but did not go in. Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. The other disciple also went in and saw and believed. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
However, Mary Magdalene stood weeping outside the tomb. Why did the disciples return to their homes leaving Mary there? The will of God must be accomplished. As she bent over to look into the tomb, she saw two angels, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her woman, why are you weeping? At this instant, Jesus appeared and said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Mary was only anxious to find out where Jesus was laid. Jesus called her by her name, Mary and she recognized him. Jesus said to her " Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Mary went and announced to them that she had seen the Lord. Praise thy Lord!
Why do I have to narrate this story of the resurrection again? Because it is a wonderful story and worth telling over and over again. Let us look at the characters at this resurrection story: Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene, Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved.
Jesus Christ resurrected very early in the first day of the week being Sunday. The Gospel of Matthew says after the Sabbath, towards the dawn of the first day of the week. With his resurrection on the first day of the week, being Sunday, Jesus Christ inaugurated a new day of obligation, a new day of worship for his Church.
Mary Magdalene was singled out among the women that went to the tomb. Why? Because she discovered the empty tomb and went back to inform Peter and the other disciple. Mary is an example of one who loves and believes, although she did not understand. She was one of the last to leave Jesus at the cross (cf. Matt. 15: 40, 47); one of the first to attend the tomb; and one who still called Jesus Christ, "Lord." Her belief was a belief of love-not a belief based upon intellect or understanding. She knew what Jesus Christ had done for her, and she loved Him for it. Jesus was her Lord, dead or alive.
'Mary ran to Peter' means a lot in the hierarchical structure of the Church. Here Mary still recognized the authority of Peter as the head of the Apostles. Peter was the one who came and entered the tomb first before the other disciple. He saw and believed. The evidence of the resurrection was clear: "the linen wrappings lying there and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself."
The name of the disciple Jesus loved was not mentioned but the from the Scripture, it was John. We all the disciples of Jesus and Jesus Christ loves us. The desciple outran Peter probably because he was younger than Peter. He reached the tomb first but did not go in. He allowed Peter to go in first thereby affirming the authority of Peter as the head of the Apostles. Respect to our elders is what we are known with in Africa and indeed in Nigeria. Well, I do not know how strong this respect is in our present. By allowing Peter to go in first has an implication in the Church's governance. For instance, the Pope and the College of Bishops/Synod of Bishops on councils and synods: It is for the Roman Pontiff alone to convoke an ecumenical council, preside offer it personally or through others, transfer, suspend, or dissolve a council, and to approve its decrees, Can. 338 ยง1. It is for the synod of bishops to discuss the questions for consideration and express its wishes but not to resolve them or issue decrees about them unless in certain cases the Roman Pontiff has endowed it with deliberative power, in which case he ratifies the decisions of the synod, Can. 343. Also in the diocese, the Bishop and the diocesan synod: the only legislator in a diocesan synod is the diocesan bishop; the other members of the synod possess only a consultative vote. Only he signs the synodal declarations and decrees, which can be published by his authority alone, Can. 466.
My dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ has risen and victory is won. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are witnesses to the resurrection not directly but in faith. Jesus said: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe, (Jn. 20: 28). Let us therefore continue to proclaim the resurrected Jesus Christ by "seeking the things that are above," Col 3: 1. Let not forget to set our minds always on things that are above, not on things that are on earth for Jesus Christ has indeed risen from the dead. Let us sing Alleluia for he is risen.

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