Christ with us: Homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter

I’m not preaching this weekend, but here’s something from the vault: my homily for this Sunday in 2012.  

The disciples met the risen Lord themselves in a tangible, physical way — a figure of flesh and bone, of wounds and scars, a man who even ate with them. “Touch me and see,” he told them.

See, he said, and believe.

This is the last of the resurrection appearances that we’ll be hearing about in the Sunday gospels this Easter season. But whether we realize it or not, all of them, collectively, point to what we are doing today.

First, there is a communal aspect: after rising from the dead, Jesus appeared to groups of people, always two or more.

Secondly, there was often some form of a meal involved, whether it was the breaking of the bread at Emmaus, eating fish here, or preparing breakfast on the seashore.

Thirdly, after these encounters, the disciples gained a deeper understanding of his message, his mission, and the scriptures.

Finally, he often came bearing a message: Peace.  In the end, those he met were somehow changed.

If it sounds familiar, it should.  These encounters with Christ foreshadowed what we are doing here and now, in our own celebration – one that is communal, that is a meal, that breaks open God’s word and that leaves us, somehow, changed.

Make no mistake: what happened 2,000 years ago is happening again here. Christ is with us.

The disciples had his presence made real, in flesh and blood.

We have his Real Presence, under the appearance of bread and wine.

When you think about what is happening— what is unfolding here before us and among us—we should be, like the disciples, full of joy.  We should be “incredulous.”  And we should be profoundly humbled.  Christ invites us at every Eucharist to encounter him. To share a meal with him.  To touch him.   To receive him.  To make him a part of us, and to then take him out into the wider world.

Which means that the Resurrection that we celebrate this Easter season wasn’t just a moment in history, something in the past tense.

It is in the present tense.

It goes on.

And, if we choose, it can continue to leave us transformed.

At the concert Tuesday night, Bruce Springsteen dedicated one of his songs to Scott Fedor, a folk anthem called “We Are Alive.”  The song begins with the image of a cross – “a cross up on Calvary Hill,” the lyric says – and describes a graveyard, where the souls of the dead live on.   In many ways, it is a song of triumph over death, of resurrection and hope. The refrain says:

“Though we lie alone here in the dark
Our souls will rise to carry the fire and light the spark
To stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart…

We are alive.”

My friends, because of “the cross up on Calvary Hill,” because of Easter morning, we are alive, alive in Christ.

And when we receive the Eucharist, he is alive in us.

Let us never forget that.  And pray to continue what began with the bright flame of the Easter vigil, the flame that still burns here in this candle and within each of us.

Carry the fire.  Light the spark.  Stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart.

Because we are alive.

Read the entire homily, and hear an audio recording of it, here. 


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