My friends, good morning! And Happy Easter! I welcome you here today to celebrate the greatest solemnity mankind will ever celebrate: the Feast of the Merciful Love of God, which we call Easter. This great solemnity we celebrate today reveals fundamentally who God is and our relationship to Him. Easter reveals to us that God is not some wrathful God, who is bent on punishing us for our sins, but rather that He is so full of mercy and love that He sent his only Son to die on the Cross for us, which we remembered through the liturgy these past few days. On Thursday we remembered Jesus offering his body and blood in the Eucharist for the fist time. And just a couple days ago, on Good Friday, we recalled the horrible death of Jesus upon the cross. The death that we all deserved because of our sins. But Jesus himself bore that punishment of sin so that we didn’t have to. Jesus died in place of us, so that we might not ever be separated from the love of God, he re-opened the gates of heaven to mankind. And yesterday we waited with the small glimmer of hope that Jesus who had died would rise again. And that, my friends, is what we celebrate today, the fulfillment of that hope. We celebrate Christ’s victory over death by His resurrection on this Easter Sunday morning.
And so, this morning, I have a question for you: What drew you here to Mass today? ….. some of you might be thinking “Nothing drew me here, it was more like being dragged!” Well, ok… then what drew the one who dragged you? Why is coming to Mass on this Easter Sunday important to you?
Here’s another question I want you to ponder: What drew Mary Magdalene to the tomb that first Easter Morning? Notice that in the Gospel, Mary Magdalene is the first one to approach the tomb, the apostles were not with her. And she came so early that it was still dark! Maybe she was an early riser like many of you here who always come to the 7:30am Mass…or maybe it was something more. What drew her so powerfully to the tomb of Jesus that she didn’t even wait for daylight to come? The answer lies in looking deeper into Mary Magdalene’s life. In the Gospel of Mark, Mark tells us that Mary Magdalene was the one from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons (Mk: 16:9). Also, according to Tradition, Mary Magdalene is the same woman who was caught in adultery and whom the Pharisees wanted to stone. And rather than condemning her like the Pharisees, Jesus forgave her sins and told her to sin no more. The one who is forgiven abundantly loves abundantly! And Mary Magdalene had been forgiven a lot and she couldn’t help but love Jesus greatly because of it. She couldn’t stay away from Him. She even watched his crucifixion and felt His loss so dramatically that she went to his tomb looking for him before anyone else did. Mary Magdalene felt the merciful love of God in her heart and couldn’t live without it.
So, why is Jesus, who is so important to Mary Magdalene, often irrelevant to us?
We can come up with many reasons why something is irrelevant to us, and I’m going to focus on three reasons. First, something is irrelevant to us if it’s not real. This would be like stating that a time machine is irrelevant to us because it’s fictional. And since it has no basis in reality, a time machine is, ultimately, irrelevant to us, however entertaining such stories containing them are portrayed. Sin and our sinfulness, on the other hand are very real and must not be considered irrelevant to us. Consequently, the need for a Savior to save us from those sins should also be very relevant to us. The second reason something is irrelevant to us is that it is historically irrelevant. This would be saying that the Pony Express is irrelevant to us because it is historically out of date and meaningless to us today, which is very true. Jesus, on the other hand, even though he lived, died, and rose from the dead 2,000 years ago is not out-of-date and is very relevant today. As much as we think the latest technology, like the newest iPhone, is relevant to us, it will eventually fade into history becoming irrelevant. Jesus, on the other hand, is God and is never irrelevant to us. Technology, for as much as it can and does advance our lives, will never be able to forgive sins, but Jesus, who lived millennia ago, can and still does, as long as we seek Him! Jesus should always be more relevant to us than the passing technology we surround ourselves with. And the third reason something is irrelevant to us if we don’t think we need it. How often do we, as a culture, think that we don’t need a savior? So often we don’t know Jesus as our savior, because we don’t realize we need to be saved. But all we have to do is look at our culture to realize how sick and in need of a physician it is! ISIS, murder, abortions, euthanasia, and a progressively “me” centered society are all prime examples. Our world is sick and suffering, even though it claims that it isn’t. Our wold claims that it doesn’t need a savior, that Jesus is just some morally upright guy who lived 2,000 years ago and that He is irrelevant to us today. My brothers and sisters, Jesus has never been more relevant that He is right now! Never have we needed him more than now. We must become like Mary Magdalene who was willing to recognize her need for forgiveness and for a savior. We must be willing to seek out the remedy only found in Jesus, as she did. We must experience God’s merciful love so deeply that we can’t live without it.
Today, there is no more relevant message, no message more important for you to hear than this: God loves you and desires to forgive you! This message was so important that He was willing to suffer, die and be buried to show you that no sin can keep you from Him if only you will come back. Do you feel Him drawing you?
My friends, God loves you profoundly! He rose from the dead today, this Easter morning, to show us all that His Merciful love is invincible. Death itself was conquered by His love. Don’t you feel drawn to His merciful love?
Yes, my friends, Jesus is Risen! He suffered, died and rose to show us that He is not only our Savior but also to show us His undying, invincible, infinite love! It is this love that draws us here today, like Mary Magdalene, to the empty tomb. And it is this love that draws us here Sunday after Sunday, to be with Him again at the Last Supper and to receive the Eucharist, the Sacrament of His love. We come back week after week to be with Him on Calvary, as He shows us the unforgettable sign of His merciful love for us. And we are drawn back, each Sunday, to be reminded by the empty tomb, of Jesus’ Infinite, Invincible love. He is drawing us all here to His love. He is drawing YOU! Will you come?
One thought on “The Feast of the Merciful Love of God – My Homily for Easter Sunday”
Excellent homily, Deacon. Praying it takes root in those who heard it (and read it here.).