Rejoice for he has truly risen. Alleluia, Alleluia!! Happy Easter everyone.
Easter is a day when we rejoice in our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus, in Jesus who has risen from the dead. It is a day of faith – a day for expressing our faith with Alleluias and Amens, with cries of praise the Lord and I believe.
Yet there are those of our families who no longer join us for our Easter celebrations. They might struggle with faith. This is not an age of faith. It is an age of doubt and skeptism where many of our family and friends struggle to believe. It raises the question, how can our celebration of Easter, our Alleluias and Amens, invite others who struggle with faith in the risen Christ. If we truly love those who doubt, who question, we should want to help, because the only reason to shout Alleluia or Amen is the belief that the Risen Christ is the answer to every weary soul, to every deep question, to every experience of emptiness written in the human heart.
We can help them with our Amen to Peter’s homily given to the Roman Cornelius and his family. Cornelius had come to faith in the God of Israel and wanted to know God more. God answered his prayers by sending Peter. Peter showed him that Jesus Christ is the only way of understanding the law and the prophets. If we want to come to a deeper faith in the God who seeks us, we can only interpret God’s word through the person of Jesus and him crucified and risen. Only after immersing ourselves in the promises of God written in the scripture and understanding them as answered in Jesus Christ can we assist those who want to know him more. Amen? Amen!
If we need help with our own Amen, if we need help to resolve our own doubts that might stop us from saying Amen with conviction, Peter’s homily can help us. He tells of Jesus’ interaction with the Apostles after the resurrection. Remember before the resurrection all the Apostles had abandoned Jesus. They struggled with their own doubts because of the crucifixion of Jesus. They struggled with their own fears even in the face of Jesus’ resurrection. Yet here is Peter boldly confessing his faith in Jesus – fearlessly preaching the good news of the Jesus suffering, his rejection by the people of Jerusalem, his death, and the glory of Jesus’ resurrection. What changed. Peter tells us that he and the other Apostles ate and drank with Jesus after his resurrection from the dead. These are Eucharistic meals. They are meals in which they received the very life of Jesus through the food they ate. From those meals Jesus commissioned the twelve to testify that Jesus was the one to whom all the prophets bear witness, and that all who will believe in Jesus receive forgiveness of sins in his name. Amen, Alleluia! Amen, Alleluia!
We now eat and drink with the risen Jesus in the Eucharist we celebrate today. We are continually being invited to bring our doubts, our fears, our questions, our weakness to the Risen Jesus in the Eucharist. He offers to resolve those doubts, calm those fears, and strengthen us for mission through our eating and drinking with him. If you want to be able to say Alleluia, Amen, boldly and fearlessly this is the place that each of us needs to be week in and week out.
The experience of eating and drinking with the Risen Jesus changes us if we let him in. As Saint Paul told the Corinthians that when we celebrate the feast of the Eucharist, the old yeast of malice and of wickedness is driven out allowing us to live with Christ in sincerity and truth.
The experience of eating and drinking with the risen Jesus changed Peter. It changed all the Apostles. It can also change us, and it can change our family and friends who struggle in faith.
But we must have patience with each other because God works with us each in our own time, in his own time. Look at the foot race between the Apostle John and the Apostle Peter to the empty tomb. Peter, who is the leader of all the Church after the resurrection, at first only sees the facts of the empty tomb. John the mystic, sees and believes. John, who has come to faith first, allows Peter to catch up.
Sometimes we might feel like God is calling us to move faster than the Church. Peter is the image of the Church and John is the image of those who come to faith through a direct experience of the Lord. John knew that as the mystic, he still needed the Church and so he waited for Peter. Peter too would come to believe and give fearless testimony to Cornelius and his family, and finally, give testimony to Christ with his life in Rome. Whether we are more like the mystic John or the leader Peter, we need one another in the Church to witness the fullness of faith in Christ Jesus. We too are being commissioned this Easter to bear witness to the truth of our faith so that others too can find the Risen Christ who is the answer to every human heart. Amen, Alleluia! Amen, Alleluia!