The Blue Mountains Franciscan Church
Sermon preached by Br Simeon at Springwood on
Sunday 27th March 2016.
EASTER SUNDAY. YR C.
Gospel: Luke 24:1-12
““Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here; he has been raised up. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer. Amen.
How do you talk matter-of-factly about an event so mind-boggling as the raising of a person from the dead, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Hollywood would use special effects to impact the viewer. Novelists would employ powerful language or words to impact the viewer. But the Scripture just tells the story of the disciples, both male and female, as they discover this unexpected and life-jolting joy. And the Scripture tells it simply, clearly, and convincingly.
The historicity of the Resurrection is crucial to the Christian faith. Our own eternal future hinges on this question. Paul writes:
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead… If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:14-15, 17, 19)
Each of the Gospel writers adds specific details to the story of the resurrection. Occasionally, it is hard to understand just how all these details fit together. But we’re reading Luke’s account, so I won’t try to weave in everything included in Matthew, Mark, and John. For example, Luke doesn’t mention the Roman soldiers who guarded the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66; 28:11-15). We’ll focus on Luke’s telling of the story.
Luke’s Easter Gospel brings to completion the ancient prophecies foretold concerning the Messiah. The two men “in dazzling white garments” at the tomb invite the terrified women to “remember what he said to you.”
Remember –not the mere recollection of a previous conversation but to understand with new and deepened insight the meaning of a past action and bringing its power and meaning into the present. It is in such creative and living “remembering” that the Church of the Resurrection is form.
Typical of Luke, women – who possessed no true autonomy, whose testimony was considered of little value before a Jewish court – are the first proclaimers of the Easter Gospel. Sure enough, the disciples refuse to believe their wild story (in his original Greek text, the physician Luke describes the women’s story as the excited babbling of a fevered and insane mind). Peter alone goes to investigate; Luke writes that Peter is “amazed” at what he sees, but still does not understand what has happened.
On this morning, we celebrate God’s new creation, the “second Genesis.” Death is no longer the ultimate finality but the ultimate beginning. The Christ who taught forgiveness, who pleaded for reconciliation, who handed himself over to his executioners for the sake of justice and mercy, has been raised up by God. We leave behind in the grave our sinfulness, our dark side, our selfishness, our pettiness – the evil that mars God’s first creation.
The Risen Christ is present to us in the faithful witness of many good people who share the good news of the empty tomb by their day to day living of the Gospel of compassion and reconciliation. Like Mary Magdalene and her companions, we can bring into the darkness of our own time and place the joyful light of the Resurrection; into the spiritless morning Spring around us, we can bring the warmth and hope of the Easter promise.
Easter pushes us out of the tombs in which we bury ourselves and challenges us to discover fulfilment in living a life centred beyond ourselves. Easter throws us out of the lifeless cemeteries where we hide in order to embrace the love of Christ present in family and community. Easter dares us to look around the rocks we stumble over and find the path of peace and forgiveness.
Jesus has been raised up from the dead. He is not bound by burial cloths of hopelessness and cynicism. He is no longer entombed by fear and distrust. His cross is not the dead wood of shame and ridicule but the first branches of a harvest of compassion and justice for every one of every time and place.
Today, as we celebrate this Easter Day, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved one’s a very Happy Easter, as we celebrate this glorious day with them, let us not forget to remember that in the midst of our celebrating, ‘Christ is Risen… He’s Risen Indeed’, Alleluia… Alleluia