In today’s first reading Peter highlights how God maintains his covenant with mankind continually despite their sins and ignorance. We may foul up things and regret the blunders we have caused either willfully or through ignorance but God’s plan continues in spite of it all. He continues to write straight through the crooked lines of our history. Peter makes the point that our God is one and the same, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors and our God as well. Peter is quick to confront the sinfulness of the leaders and the people of Israel. When we look at our sins and their effect on the world around us we could easily give way to despair and despondency. Our response should not be one of passive resignation and disowning of responsibility but rather one of repentance and reconciliation.
Centuries ago, it was known far and wide that a certain tribal leader was the greatest in all the tribes. In order to help his people he carefully put laws into place so that he had a reputation for uncompromising justice. But in spite of the laws there were problems; someone in the tribe was stealing. He called the people and reasoned with them. “This stealing must stop. A penalty has been imposed of twenty lashes from the whip for the person caught stealing.” But the thief continued stealing, so the leader called the people again. “Please hear me, he pleaded. This must stop. The penalty has been increased to thirty lashes.” Still the stealing continued and again the leader called them, pleaded with them and increased the penalty to forty lashes. Finally a man came to say that the thief was caught and as word spread everyone gathered to see who it was. A single gasp emerged through the crowd as the thief emerged between the two guards. The tribal leader’s face fell in shock and grief for the thief was his very own mother, old and frail. “What will he do?” the people murmured. Would he uphold the law or would his love for his mother win over it? The people waited eagerly to watch the outcome. Finally the leader spoke. “My beloved people,” His voice broke. “It is for our safety and our peace. There must be forty lashes; the pain this crime has caused is too great.” With his nod the guards led his mother forward. One gently removed her robe to expose her bony and crooked back. The appointed man stepped forward and began to unwind the whip. At the same moment the leader stepped forward and removed his robe as well, exposing his broad shoulders, seasoned and solid. Tenderly he wrapped his arms around his dear mother, shielding her with his own body. He whispered gently against her cheek as his tears blended with hers. He nodded once more, and the whip came down again and again. A single moment, yet in it love and justice found an eternal harmony.
John MacArthur as told in ‘Grace to You’
The Gospel scene is once again the hideout of the disciples and there is pandemonium and confusion instead of peace and harmony. Jesus had died and now there was talk that He had risen from the dead. But there are still doubts and questions. While they are arguing and debating their stories, Jesus himself stood among them, and they were startled and terrified and believed they were seeing a ghost. Jesus’ words are those of comfort. “Peace be with you!” Through this passage we are reminded that in spite of our faults and failures God is ever ready to come to us. Unfortunately, instead of fixing our gaze on him and believing in his words of pardon, we prefer to stay with our past and live in fear of punishment. If we turn our gaze to Him, He will open our minds to understand the scriptures, to understand everything that is taking place; it will all fall in place! His death was necessary to rise again to new life. Our sins, our death is necessary so that we too might rise up to new life. We are called to be witnesses not only of his death but of his resurrection; called to be witnesses of the forgiveness of sins; called to be witnesses of a God of Peace and New Life!
The Four-legged theologian
The sick man seized the doctor’s hand. “I’m so afraid to die. Do tell me doctor, what is waiting for me when I die? What will it be like on the other side?” “I don’t know.” answered the doctor. “You don’t know?” whispered the dying man. Without further reply the doctor opened the door into the corridor. A dog sprang in, jumped up to him and showed in every way his joy at seeing his master again. Then the doctor turned back to the sick man and said: “Did you see how the dog behaved? He has never been in this room before and does not know the people here. But he knew his master was on the other side of the door and so he leapt joyfully in as soon as the door opened. Now look: I don’t know anything exactly about what is waiting for us after death either, but it is enough for me to know that my master is on the other side. So when the door opens one day I shall go in with great joy.”
Pierre Lefevre from ‘One Hundred Stories to Change Your Life’
The wounds of love
There was a man who was very attached to his father, who had been a laborer all his life. When the father died the son was grief-stricken. As he stood quietly gazing down into the coffin in which he was laid out, he was particularly struck by his father’s hands. Even small things can reveal the essence of a person’s life. Later he said: ‘I will never forget those magnificently weathered old hands. They told the story of a countryman’s life in the eloquent language of wrinkles, veins, old scars and new. My father’s hands always bore some fresh scratch or cut as adornment, the result of his latest tangle with a scrap of wire, a rusted pipe, a stubborn root. In death they did not disappoint even in that small and valuable particular. ‘It is not given to sons to know everything about their fathers, but I have those hands in my memory to supply evidence of the obligations he met, the sweat he gave, the honest deeds he performed. By looking at those hands you could read a better part of the old man’s heart.’ Jesus said to the apostles: ‘Look at my hands and feet … Touch me and see for yourselves…’ He said the same thing to Thomas: ‘See my wounded hands and side. Cease doubting and believe.’
Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’
In the movie Resurrection, actress Ellen Burstyn stars as Edna Mae McCauley who suffers near-death. As a result of a car crash, Edna Mae apparently dies in a hospital emergency room. After a few moments of frantic effort, the medics succeed in reviving her. During that interval of apparent death, Edna Mae has a mysterious experience of an afterlife. She is transported through a tunnel of light where she meets family and friends who have already died. When she returns to consciousness, she remembers this peaceful experience very vividly, and she is blessed with the power of healing. The movie Resurrection reflects what researchers like Raymond Moody and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross have learned from people who have had similar near-death experiences. Such glimpses of an afterlife do not prove there is a resurrection after we die. They merely hint at its possibility.
Albert Cylwicki in ‘His Word Resounds’
Fresh Fish Sold Here
To sell fish a fisherman painted a signboard reading, “Fresh Fish Sold Here.” To disturb business, his foe said, “You don’t sell stale fish, do you? So why write ‘fresh’? Agreeing the fisherman painted a new signboard with just: “Fish Sold Here.” Once again, his foe suggested, “Obviously, you are selling fish here, not there!” Nodding in agreement, the fisherman went back and returned with a new signboard –“Fish is Sold.” Now the foe appeared a third time and said, “Anybody with eyes will see that you are selling fish, not meat! Wipe off the word ‘fish’!” The gullible fisherman was so confused he wanted to make still another signboard, forgetting that he was selling fish! – If there is something one really believes in beyond doubt, then, one must cling to that truth even if people offer advice, suggestions and even threats to change one’s belief. I’d imagine that the frightened fishermen-followers of Jesus were in the same predicament as the fisherman of our story as they sought to comprehend Jesus’ life-death-resurrection, and more importantly, to proclaim Him. Today’s readings help us to trace out their ‘faith journey’ from doubt to faith, from dread to fearlessness.
Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’
Get away Satan!
The devil once wanted to deceive a holy woman and appeared to her disguised as the risen Lord. “I’ve come to save you, my child!” said the devil. The woman looked up and said, “If you are Christ show me your wounds!” At this the devil replied, “I’ve come from heaven; in my glory!” The woman cried, “Get away Satan! A Christ without wound is no Christ!
Do we recognize Jesus?
There was once a little boy who always wanted to meet Jesus. One day he was walking home from Sunday school. As he went through the park, he noticed an old woman sitting on a park bench. She looked lonely and hungry, so he sat down and offered part of the chocolate bar he had been saving. She accepted it with a smile. He gave her more of the candy, and she shared a can of root beer with him. They sat together in a very friendly manner, eating and drinking and smiling at each other. When the boy got up to leave, he reached over the woman and gave her a big hug. He walked home smiling. His mother noticed his big smile and happiness on his face and asked, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” “I had lunch with Jesus. And she has a great smile,” he said. The old woman returned to the small apartment she shared with her sister. She too was smiling. Her sister asked her why she was so happy. “I just had lunch with Jesus. And he is a lot younger than I expected,” she said.
John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’
From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:
1: The ghost story! There is a true story in Ripley’s Believe It or Not about a judge in Yugoslavia who had an unfortunate accident. He was “electrocuted” when he reached up to turn on the light while standing in the bathtub. His wife found his body sprawled on the bathroom floor. She called for help. Friends and neighbors, police–everyone showed up. He was pronounced dead and taken to the funeral home. The local radio picked up the story and broadcast it all over the air. In the middle of the night, the judge regained consciousness. When he realized where he was, he rushed over to alert the night watchman, who promptly ran off, terrified. The first thought of the judge was to phone his wife and reassure her, using the funeral home phone. But he got no further than, “Hello darling, it’s me,” when she screamed and fainted. He tried calling a couple of the neighbors, but they all thought it was some sort of a sick prank. He even went so far as to go to the homes of several friends, but they were all sure he was a ghost and slammed the door in his face. Finally, he was able to call a friend in the next town who hadn’t heard of his death. This friend was able to convince his family and other friends that he really was alive. — Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus had to convince the disciples that he wasn’t a ghost. He had to dispel their doubts and their fears. He showed them his hands and his feet. He invited them to touch him and see that he was real. And he even ate a piece of cooked fish with them — all to prove that he was alive and not a ghost or spirit. He stood there before them, as real and alive as he had been over the past three years. (The Autoillustrator). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
2: “What in the world happened to you?” A man showed up at Church with both his ears painfully blistered. After the service, his concerned pastor asked “What in the world happened to you?” The man replied, “I was lying on the couch yesterday afternoon watching a ball game on TV and my wife was ironing nearby. I was totally engrossed in the game when she left the room, leaving the iron near the phone. The phone rang and keeping my eyes glued to the television, I grabbed for the phone, got the iron and put it to my ear.” “So how did the other ear get burned?” the pastor asked. “Well, I had no more than hung up and the guy called again.” [Bill Tewels, “Overheard at the Country Café,” Country (Oct-Nov 1994), p. 45.] — Here is a man who was focused! He was so caught up in watching the game, he didn’t know what he was doing. In our Gospel lesson for today the disciples of Jesus have lost their focus. They are confused and weary. They need a break. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
3: “We’re walking proud!” Each year the Irish National Tourist Board invites marching bands from home and abroad to take part in the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade. The band from Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester accepted in 1982. It was the eighth parade trip to Dublin for the “Marching Kings,” and they had won the major Irish awards in 1979. But a win in 1979 did not guarantee a win in 1982. In three years the band membership had changed almost completely, and they were in competition against over eighty international quick-stepping units. Flying to Ireland a bit early, the Kings marched in some smaller parades. At Galway their concert and jazz bands carried off first honors. Judges of the Limerick parade voted them the top school band. These awards were encouraging but second-class. Band Director Ray Shahin would not let his team relax. At Dublin, he warned them he would simply not let them beat themselves. Well, the big parade took place on March 17 on Dublin’s O’Connell Street. Traditional Irish rain mixed with hail didn’t make the high stepping any easier. The Marching Kings did their best, but the prize winners were not to be announced until evening. They all went to an official dancing party tired and tense. Finally, at 8 PM Mr. Shahin came in with the verdict. Color Guard and Twirlers category, first place: Bishop Kearney. Best overseas band category: Bishop Kearney. And finally, over-all best band category: Bishop Kearney. Pandemonium broke loose. The 140 winners sprang to life again, cheering, hugging, weeping. Two days later their schoolmates welcomed them back to Rochester with a banner inscribed “We’re walking proud!” — God permits us all occasional moments of unexpected delight. “Pinch me,” we say, “I think I’m dreaming.” Thrills like these can help us to appreciate the far greater joy of the disciples at Easter. The Jesus whom they had seen hurried off to death stood live again before them. “They were incredulous for sheer joy and wonder.” (Luke 24:41 Today’s Gospel.) -Father Robert F. McNamara. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
4: The “miracle principle”. The great promoter of positive thinking, Rev. Norman Vincent Peale (died, 1993 at 95), believed that one of the most wonderful principles known to man is called the “miracle principle”. Six words describe the principle: Expect a miracle – make miracles happen. According to Peale, if you keep your eyes open expectantly every day for great and wonderful things to happen, great and wonderful things will tend to happen to you. If one expects great things from God, one will receive great things from God. How then, can one go about expecting miracles and causing miracles to happen? According to Rev. Peale, the number one thing is to have a tremendous Faith, a deep Faith – a Faith that is so positively strong that it rises above doubt. He asserts that if we train ourselves to have faith in depth, it will release an astonishing power in our life to produce miracles. –Indeed, there are some people who are figuratively swimming in a sea of troubles. They are so discouraged and dismayed by so many things that it is impossible for them to believe that a life-giving miracle could ever happen in their lives. The disciples of Jesus who were devastated by the event of their Lord’s passion and death were similarly troubled with doubts, fears and despair. An Easter apparition was necessary to assure them of the reality of a stupendous miracle: The Lord’s Resurrection. To the frightened and troubled disciples who were incredulous of the beautiful reality of the “miracle”, the Risen Christ revealed himself anew, opening their minds and hearts, instructing them about the Paschal event of His death and Resurrection, and its implications in their life as Easter witnesses. (Lectio Divina) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
5. A man dies and goes to heaven. As St. Peter shows the newly arrived man around the heavenly city, they hear singing coming from a nearby building. When the man asks Peter what’s going on, Peter says, “Ssshh! That’s the [name your least favorite Christian group]. They don’t know the rest of us are here.” (It’s a tired old joke, but it says a lot about Christian disunity).
19 Additional anecdotes:
1) A man at the Super Bowl. A man
bought the very last seat for the Super Bowl. It was a rotten seat,
closer to the blimp than to the field, but early in the first quarter, he
noticed an empty seat on the 50-yard line. He scrambled down and somewhat
furtively sat in the seat. “Excuse me,” he asked, “is anyone sitting
“No,” said the man on his right.
“That’s incredible. Who in his right mind would pass up a seat like this for the Super Bowl?”
“Well, actually,” said the man, “the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to be here with my dear wife, but she passed away. This is the first Super bowl in twenty years that we haven’t been together.”
“How sad!” said the other fellow. “But couldn’t you find someone to come with you, a relative or a close friend?”
“No,” said the man, “they’re all at her funeral!”
–The widower in the story was missing something in head and heart. Emotional crisis can blur our vision of reality as happened to the apostles in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
2) “Dr. Louis Pasteur, Academy of Science, Paris.” A train was racing for Paris. In one of its compartments two men sat opposite each other. The first was a young medical research student who was bored by the long journey. The other was an old man reciting his rosary with closed eyes. The young researcher began to ridicule the old man for his superstitious beliefs. He then went on to tell of the wonders of medical science. The old man just nodded, smiled and continued his prayer in spite of the humiliating comments of his fellow passenger. When they reached the Paris station, the old man enquired where the youngster was going. The young man proudly announced that he was going to attend a lecture by the world-famous scientist, Louis Pasteur. The old man took out a visiting card from his pocket, gave it to the young man and bid him farewell. The card read: “Dr. Louis Pasteur, Academy of Science, Paris.” — Pride and prejudice often blur our vision and occasionally blind us to reality, leading us to wrong judgments as it happened to the apostles in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
3) “We can see your love and loyalty in your hands.” Tolstoy once told a story of a Czar and Czarina who wished to honor the members of their court with a banquet. They sent out invitations and requested that the guests come with the invitations in their hands. When they arrived at the banquet the guests were surprised to discover that the guards did not look at their invitations at all. Instead they examined their hands. The guests wondered about this, but they were also curious to see who the Czar and Czarina would choose as the guest of honor to sit between them at the banquet. They were flabbergasted to see that it was the old scrubwoman who had worked to keep the palace clean for years. The guards, having examined her hands, declared, “You have the proper credentials to be the guest of honor. We can see your love and loyalty in your hands.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges the unbelieving disciples: “See my hands and my feet…” They were invited to remove their superstitious doubt that he was a ghost. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
4) Witnessing with power: The grandfather of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber was lame. One day they asked him to tell a story about his teacher, and he related how his master used to hop and dance while he prayed. The old man rose as he spoke and was so swept away by his story that he himself began to hop and dance to show how his master did it. From that moment he was cured of his lameness. — When we tell the story of Christ, we achieve two things. We enable others to experience him and we ourselves experience his power even more. We can see that happening in today’s Gospel. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
5) The Godfather In the early 70s, the Mafia, especially in New York City, was washed up and worn out. Then the movie, The Godfather, came out. More than anything else, it was that movie that brought the Mafia back to life. The Godfather movie energized them and told them who they were. They weren’t thugs. They were just like every other ethnic group: trying to get their piece of the pie, trying to make the dream of the American Promised Land come true. And that was the beginning of their comeback.– This morning, we are like the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion: washed up, worn down, bummed-out creatures. Then Jesus changed everything. It was Jesus’ appearance and assurance that energized them and reminded them of who they were and could be. This morning, Jesus appears to us in his Word, we who are washed up, worn down, bummed-out creatures, energizing us with the mission of who we are and who we can be—if only we “Trust and Obey.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
6) “Run for your lives! Run for your lives!” The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once told a story about a circus that caught fire. The flames from the circus fire spread to the fields surrounding the circus grounds and began to burn toward the village below. The circus master, convinced that the village would be destroyed, and the people killed unless they were warned, asked if there was anybody who could go to the village and warn the people. The clown, dressed in full costume, jumped on a bicycle and sped down the hill to the village below. “Run for your lives! Run for your lives! A fire is coming, and the village is going to burn!” he shouted as he rode up and down the streets of the village. “The village is going to burn! Run for your lives!” Curious, the villagers came out of their houses and shops and stood along the sidewalks. They shouted back to the clown, laughing and applauding his performance. The more desperately the clown shouted, the more the villagers cheered. The village burned to the ground and the loss of life was great because no one took the clown seriously. After all, he was just a clown. [Soren Kierkegaard, Parables of Kierkegaard (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press 1978).] — It’s startling the amount of influence we don’t have when we look like clowns and don’t live like Jesus. And when we don’t live our Faith, we’re startled when our Faith is challenged or when it comes under attack, even though Jesus said this would be normal for Christians who truly lived their Faith. But the most startling thing of all is that this startling Savior, Jesus, still reaches out in startling encounters and changes lives. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
7) Like the story of Luiqi Tarisio who, some years ago was found dead one morning with hardly any creature comforts in his home, except the presence of 246 exquisite violins. He had been collecting them all his life. They were all stored in the attic. The best violins were found in the bottom drawer of an old rickety bureau. The greatest of his collection, a Stradivarius, when it was finally played, had had 147 speechless years. In his very devotion to the violin, he had robbed the world of all that exquisite music. — How many of Christ’s people are like old Tarisio? In our very love of the Church we fail to give the glad tidings to the world; in our zeal for the truth we forget to publish it. When shall we all learn that the Good News needs not just to be cherished, but needs to be told? Don’t bury God’s Good News of Easter at the bottom of a rickety old bureau. Let the people hear the great sound of the music: “He is Risen!” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
8) “I don’t really belong here, I’m simply staying here.” Malcolm Muggeridge died in the fall of 1990. He was a highly intelligent man who served at various times in his life as a foreign correspondent, newspaper editor, editor of Punch magazine, and well-known television personality in Great Britain. It was as an adult, rather late in his life, that he finally became a Christian. He wrote of his dilemma as a journalist-turned-believer in his works such Jesus Rediscovered, Christ and the Media, Something Beautiful for God, and his multivolume autobiography, Chronicles of Wasted Time. The “wasted time” he wrote about were those wasted years before he knew Christ as his Savior. Muggeridge frequently spoke and wrote of “feeling like a stranger” in the world. In an interview a few years before his death, Muggeridge was asked if he would be willing to explain that feeling. His answer is worth repeating: “I’d very gladly do so, because I’ve thought about it often. In the war, when I was in North Africa, I heard some lieutenant colonel first use the phrase ‘displaced person.’ That phrase was very poignant to me, but it’s also a very good definition of a person who’s come to see that life is not about carnal things, or success, but is about eternity rather than time . . . I don’t really belong here, I’m simply staying here.” (Charles Swindoll, Maybe It’s Time to Laugh. Cited by Dicky Love in Parables, etc.) — Have you made that discovery yet? There is no joy in half-hearted Faith. Many of us have just enough religion to make us miserable. But Christ wants to make our lives a miracle. Those early disciples had trouble believing, first for fear, and then for joy, but when they did believe, it turned their lives and their world upside down. The point is that Muggeridge experienced a radical change in his life after he came to the realization that Christ is real and that Christ is alive. But what he discovered much to his amazement was that his new life was so far superior to his old life that he in no way would ever turn back. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
9) “What is the first name of the woman who cleans this building?” A nurse in training went to one of her classes one day. The professor announced that there would be a pop quiz. She breezed through the questions, until she came to the last question. The last question was this: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans this building?” She thought it must be some kind of a joke. Whoever heard of that kind of a question on a test? She had seen the cleaning woman. She could describe her physically, but why should she know her name? She handed in her test, leaving the last question unanswered. She asked the professor, “Are you going to count that last question on the final score?” “Absolutely,” said the professor, “In your careers you are going to meet many people. Each one is significant. Each person deserves your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.” —Today’s Gospel reminds us that for the risen Lord, each of his apostles was important. (From Buzz Stevens). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
10) “That’s It!” There is another beautiful love story. It concerns the love of Paul Tournier, one of the world’s most beloved and respected Christian doctors, for his wife Nelly. In one of his books, Tournier describes how he and Nelly were able to talk about death after her first serious bout with coronary thrombosis while they were in Greece. She knew how gravely ill she was and that a second attack could leave her severely handicapped or could even be fatal. Their last month together was a time of intimate sharing. On the last day she said to him, “Perhaps it would have been better if I had died of my heart attack a month ago.” Tournier responded, “And yet my Greek colleagues have done a good job. They saved your life. You are glad of that.” “Yes, of course,” she said, “if I can get back to Geneva and see my children and grandchildren.” She was silent for a moment, and then added, “But if I had died, I should be in Heaven now, and I should be meeting your parents.” Tournier was touched by this. He writes, “You see, she also married my expectation of Heaven!” He replied to her, “Well, when you arrive in Heaven, my parents will thank you for having been the wife that you have been for their son.” It was to be Tournier’s last words to her. A moment later she put her hand on her heart and exclaimed, “That’s it!” He asked, “Are you sure?” She answered “Yes.” And she was in Heaven. [Paul Tournier, A Listening Ear (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1984).] — The world simply cannot deal with that kind of expectation. Without the Easter Faith, not only death but life itself is ultimately meaningless. What value is there in love that ends beside a grave? Father Bobby Jose). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
11) “They would not use the same rope that had been used by the ‘untouchables.’” Some years ago the papers were full of a story about the death of seventy-eight people in New Delhi, India. There had been a bus accident and, in the bus, had been two castes of Indians. A man tied a rope to a tree, and all eleven “untouchables” climbed out to safety. But seventy-eight Indians died because they would not use the same rope that had been used by the “untouchables.” [George F. Regas, Kiss Yourself and Hug the World (Waco: Word Books, 1987).)] — How outrageous are the claims of the Gospel! The Divine Creator of all that lives and moves and has its being came down to earth and suffered and died to say to us that no one on this earth is untouchable. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
12) “We will raise you up”: The priest (“poojary”) of a small Hindu congregation in a tribal area in India was being proselytized by some energetic Christian missionaries. He listened for a while and then said to them: “Gentlemen, look. I have a proposal that will settle this. I have here a glass of nux vomica, a poison which I use to kill rats. If you will drink this poison and remain alive as your God Jesus Christ promised, I will join your religion – and not only myself, but my entire Hindu congregation. But if you won’t drink the poison, well, then, I can only conclude that you are false ministers of the Gospel you preach because you do not trust that your Lord would not let you perish.” This created a problem for the missionaries. They conferred with each other and said, “What on earth are we going to do?” Finally, they arrived at a plan of action. They came back, approached the Hindu priest and said, “Here is our plan. You drink the poison, and we’ll raise you from the dead by the power of Jesus!” — Our Scripture for this third Sunday of Easter is about believers. But it is also about doubting and wondering and trying to figure things out. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
13) Fresh fish is sold here: To sell fish, a fisherman painted a signboard reading, “Fresh Fish is Sold Here.” To disturb business, his foe said, “You don’t sell stale fish, do you? So, why write ‘fresh’?” Agreeing, the fisherman painted a new signboard with just: “Fish is Sold Here.” Once again, his foe suggested, “Obviously, you’re selling fish here, not there!” Nodding his agreement, the fisherman went back and returned with a new signboard “Fish is Sold.” Now, the foe appeared a third time and said, “Anybody with eyes will see that you’re selling fish, not meat! Wipe off the word ‘fish’! The gullible fisherman was so confused that he wanted to make still another signboard, forgetting that he was selling fish! — If there is something one really believes in beyond doubt, then one must cling to that truth even if people offer advice, suggestions and even threats to change one’s beliefs. I’d imagine predicament of the fisherman in our story as they sought to comprehend Jesus’ life-death-Resurrection, and more importantly, to proclaim Him. Today’s readings help us to trace out their ‘Faith-journey’ from doubt to Faith, from dread to fearlessness. (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
14) Same Sermon Repeated: It was his first Sunday in the parish, and the congregation were on full alert to form their initial judgment of their new parish priest. His homily was excellent. This was a great relief to all. The following Sunday the crowds had increased significantly, probably because the good news had gone around during the week. To the surprise of those who were there the previous Sunday, the priest proceeded to give the exact same sermon. They excused this in the belief that there were so many new-comers this morning, which was all very well until the next Sunday, the next Sunday, and, indeed, the following Sunday, the very same sermon! Two or three of the parishioners decided to approach him as diplomatically as possible, to talk to him about how they felt about what was happening. They were extremely diplomatic. “That’s a very good sermon, Father.” “Oh, thank you very much. I’m glad you found it helpful.” “We were just wondering, Father, if you realise that you have given the exact same sermon for the past five Sundays.” “Oh. Yes, I know that,” replied the priest. “Well, Father, without wishing to be offensive, but we have to have an answer for those who sent us in here, do you have any other sermons?” “Oh, of course, I have plenty of other sermons.” “Well Father, you will be going on to one of the other sermons, won’t you?” “Of course, I will,” replied the priest. “When will that be, Father?” “I promise you that I will move to the next sermon— as soon as I see you doing something about the first one!” — If we don’t get the truth of Resurrection, what is the point of any further discussion? (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth! Quoted by Fr. Botelho).Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
15) Shattered dream or rebirth of a dream? There was a train driver who drove his train up and down the same line every day. There was this lovely little cottage set in a short distance from the track. Its white walls shone in the sun. In front of it grew the most gorgeous roses he had ever seen. It was like something one imagines exists only in picture postcards. He soon fell in love with it. One afternoon as he was passing he saw a little girl playing on the front lawn. She waved to him as the train swept past. He hooted the horn in response. The same thing happened next afternoon. Thus began an innocent and beautiful friendship between him and the child. Every afternoon she waved to him, and he hooted the horn in response. Sometimes the girl was joined by her mother, and they both waved. It made him very happy, and also made the monotonous journey seem short. Years passed. The child grew up. Only occasionally now was she there to wave to him. Nevertheless, the bond that had been forged over the years was still intact. Then he retired and went to live a distance away. But he could not get the cottage and his two friends out of his mind. So, one day he decided to visit them. When he got there, things were very different from what he had imagined. The walls of the cottage were not nearly as white as he had thought. The roses were not as beautiful as they seemed. But the biggest disappointment of all came when he met the woman and her daughter. They were polite to him when he told them who he was. They led him into a gloomy parlour where they chatted over tea. But he felt out of place. So, he left as soon as he could politely do so. He felt empty. His dream world had dissolved. The friendship which had given so much meaning to his life was shattered.– Is our faith a dream world or the true reality? (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
16) The Four-legged theologian: The sick man seized the doctor’s hand. “I’m so afraid to die. Do tell me doctor, what is waiting for me when I die? What will it be like on the other side?” “I don’t know.” answered the doctor. “You don’t know?” whispered the dying man. Without further reply the doctor opened the door into the corridor. A dog sprang in, jumped up to him and showed in every way his joy at seeing his master again. Then the doctor turned back to the sick man and said: “Did you see how the dog behaved? He has never been in this room before and does not know the people here. But he knew his master was on the other side of the door and so he leapt joyfully in as soon as the door opened. Now look: I don’t know anything exactly about what is waiting for us after death either, but it is enough for me to know that my master the Risen Lord is on the other side. So, when the door opens one day I shall go in with great joy.” (Pierre Lefevre from One Hundred Stories to Change Your Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
17) The wounds of love: There was a man who was very attached to his father, who had been a labourer all his life. When the father died the son was grief-stricken. As he stood quietly gazing down into the coffin in which he was laid out, he was particularly struck by his father’s hands. Even small things can reveal the essence of a person’s life. Later he said: “I will never forget those magnificently weathered old hands. They told the story of a countryman’s life in the eloquent language of wrinkles, veins, old scars and new. My father’s hands always bore some fresh scratch or cut as adornment, the result of his latest tangle with a scrap of wire, a rusted pipe, a stubborn root. In death they did not disappoint even in that small and valuable particular. It is not given to sons to know everything about their fathers, but I have those hands in my memory to supply evidence of the obligations he met, the sweat he gave, the honest deeds he performed. By looking at those hands you could read a better part of the old man’s heart.” — Jesus said to the apostles: ‘Look at my hands and feet … Touch me and see for yourselves…’ He said the same thing to Thomas: ‘See my wounded hands and side. Cease doubting and believe.’ (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 2021.
18) Near death experiences and afterlife: In the movie Resurrection, actress Ellen Burstyn stars as Edna Mae McCauley who suffers near-death. As a result of a car crash, Edna Mae apparently dies in a hospital emergency room. After a few moments of frantic effort, the medics succeed in reviving her. During that interval of apparent death, Edna Mae has a mysterious experience of an afterlife. She is transported through a tunnel of light where she meets family and friends who have already died. When she returns to consciousness, she remembers this peaceful experience very vividly, and she is blessed with the power of healing. — The movie Resurrection reflects what researchers like Raymond Moody and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross have learned from people who have had similar near-death experiences. Such glimpses of an afterlife do not prove there is a resurrection after we die. They merely hint at its possibility. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
19) “I had lunch with Jesus”: There was once a little boy who always wanted to meet Jesus. One day he was walking home from Sunday school. As he went through the park, he noticed an old woman sitting on a park bench. She looked lonely and hungry, so he sat down and offered part of the chocolate bar he had been saving. She accepted it with a smile. He gave her more of the candy, and she shared a can of root beer with him. They sat together in a very friendly manner, eating and drinking and smiling at each other. When the boy got up to leave, he reached over the woman and gave her a big hug. He walked home smiling. His mother noticed his big smile and happiness on his face and asked, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” “I had lunch with Jesus. And she has a great smile,” he said. The old woman returned to the small apartment she shared with her sister. She too was smiling. Her sister asked her why she was so happy. “I just had lunch with Jesus. And he is a lot younger than I expected,” she said. (John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
A similar story is told of the great missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson. Judson went to the King of Burma to ask him if he might have permission to go to a certain city to preach. The King, a pagan, but quite an intelligent man responded, "I'm willing for a dozen preachers to go but not you, not with those hands. My people are not such fools as to take notice of your preaching but they will note those calloused, work scarred hands."
After his crucifixion, the disciples of Jesus were trying to sort out the meaning of the reports they had been receiving about appearances of the risen Christ. It was most confusing to them. Was it a hoax? They were not completely immune to superstition. Perhaps it was some kind of ghost. Suddenly it happened. Jesus himself stood among them. The disciples were startled and frightened. Then Jesus said to them, "Why are you troubled and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself..." The response of the disciples is a sermon in itself. Luke tells us that they "disbelieved for joy..." It was simply too wonderful to be true. He was alive and he was with them right there. No wonder they had difficulty believing. Some persons still have that problem today. Many desperately want to believe but something holds them back. "See my hands and my feet..."
there are fingerpaints, Frisbees, . ..
Jesus knew that if his resurrection was going to do the world any good - if the disciples were really going to be able to proclaim a message of Good News that the world could hear and accept - then the resurrection had to be seen as something more than just the world's greatest divine parlor trick, more than just the ultimate surprise ending that would startle and jolt everyone who heard about it. No, the truth of Easter and the reality of Jesus' return from the dead had to be the capstone on a much larger story that went all the way back to the beginning. It must be seen as something toward which God has been working all along because then and only then can we understand that this has something to do with the core purpose for which we all were created in the first place. Somehow Easter does more than just offer the kind of generic "new beginning" and "fresh start" that some churches seem to reduce it to each year.
Jesus returns from the dead and meets his disciples in different places: the garden, the Emmaus Road, the seashore, the Upper Room. He witnesses to them that he is alive, this guy back from the dead with a body. He isn't content to send them a postcard from heaven: HAVING A GREAT TIME. WISH YOU WERE HERE. No. He shows up among them as his own witness.
And he recruits as witnesses those other people with bodies. He wants them to move out and tell everyone who will listen and everyone who won't that bodies count, that he's back from the dead with a body, threatening them with life.
That's what this back-to-life Jesus wants of us: not names on a list, or what someone has called "pew potatoes." Jesus wants us as witnesses. Not airy spirits or pious ghosts, but bodies like his own with wounds to show, bodies that witness to resurrection, threatening the world with life. For the only Easter some people may ever see is the Easter they see in you and me.
The resurrection of Jesus, throughout the years has been critically examined, judged by authorities, and editorialized by writers, and the conclusion of most is that it is simply an event which cannot be proven and probably too good to be true. It may look like an apple but in actuality it is artificial fruit, they conclude. But if you will pick it up and take a bite you come to know that he really did rise from the grave. He is alive. He is listening to our prayers. He is ready to serve when that service deals with the human heart in need of a shepherd's guidance and love.
The song goes, "They'll know we are Christians by our love." Let us be about our Father's business as we serve him with joy. Let us show and tell others the good news of the gospel.
While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" (Luke 24:41). And now he has made the sacramental moment back into a meal.
That is so Luke. The Physician. Mr. Everything-is-flesh-and-blood; you're either poor or you're not poor; you're either hungry or you're not hungry; you're either sick or you're not sick; none of the in-between "Well, maybe we're poor in a spiritual sense." For Luke it's always a question of people's physical well-being. And physically, Jesus, who on Good Friday was completely dead, is now so completely alive that he wants something to eat. He is not a ghost.
Keith Grogg, A Ghost Does Not Have Flesh and Bones
Jesus did not command the whole world to go to church. Jesus commanded his church to go to the whole world.
The gospels of the New Testament do not demand that we understand Christ. Rather, they offer the burden-lightening insight that Christ understands us. We do not have to understand Easter to experience Easter.
C. Welton Gaddy, For Those Who Missed Easter
The story is told of the explorer who some years ago had just returned to his country from the Amazon. The people at home were eager to learn all about the vast and mighty river and the country surrounding it. How he wondered, could he ever describe it to them - how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded into his heart when he saw the exotic flowers and heard the night sounds of the jungle. How could he communicate to them the smells the filled the air and the sense of danger and excitement that would come whenever he and his fellows explorers encountered strange animals or paddled through treacherous rapids?
Touch sanctifies memory. I have a favorite cup for my morning coffee. It was my mother's long before it was mine. For years it had its place on the kitchen window sill in my boyhood home. The chip is still on the rim, reminding me of the horseplay my sister and I enjoyed in a time when kids actually washed and dried dishes. My mother's hands have long since relinquished that flowered coffee cup, but because she was all that she was to me, I can hold it and remember.
The Bible is nothing if not surprising, and on a fairly regular basis at that. We forget this. In fact, sheer over-familiarity breeds not contempt exactly but a barely stifled yawn as we read yet again the old, old story that we have known so long we can hardly see it with new eyes anymore. For preachers, this is at once an occupational hazard and a great opportunity. The hazard is that we ourselves are too familiar with the Bible and its stories to get startled by it all. We too preach on these texts as though rehearsing for the millionth time the recipe for making shortbread cookies or something. So in our studies we read the text and we nod. Yes, I remember this. Then we write our sermons and continue to nod in agreement that yes, yes, yes, this is the basic truth to be boiled out of this passage. And come Sunday we deliver our sermon and the congregation also nods in agreement (and maybe now and then just flat out nods off!).
As striking as anything else in Luke's account of the resurrection is how understated so much of it is. Churches today tend to pull out all the stops on Easter Sunday morning - the brass blares, the pipe organ is at full throttle, and the "Hallelujah Chorus" very often caps off the entire worship service.
Of course, there is more than enough good news on Easter so as to warrant hearty celebrations. But the biblical portraits are, by comparison, so modest. In Luke 24, Jesus simply walks up from behind while Cleopas and friend trudge dejectedly toward Emmaus. Then, not long after those two had flown back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples about this amazing encounter, Jesus himself pops into that very room. There is amazement. There is great wonder. There is fear and also some doubts as to what they were really seeing.
Joel D. Kline, Hearts Strangely Warmed
In the ancient Greek myth The Odyssey we read the epic tale of Odysseus. Odysseus was the valiant warrior who fought so bravely in the Trojan War. But, according to legend, his homeward journey after that war was interrupted for many years as the gods had decided to test Odysseus' true mettle through a series of trials. His journeys carried him far and wide as he encountered mythic beasts and lands, many of which have passed into common parlance: the Cyclops, the Procrustean bed, Scylla and Charybdis, the sirens' voices.
Meanwhile, back at his home, Odysseus' wife and family presume he must have died en route back from Troy. Finally, however, the day came when the gods released Odysseus and he arrives back home at last. But instead of simply waltzing through the front door and crying out some Greek equivalent of, "Honey, I'm home!" Odysseus decides that he wants to determine if anything has changed during his long absence. Did his wife still love him? Had she been faithful? In order to find out, Odysseus disguises himself so as to approach his home looking like a stranger in need of temporary lodging.
The housekeeper, Euryclea, welcomes the apparent traveler and performs for him the then-standard practice of foot-washing. As she does so, Euryclea regales the stranger with anecdotes about her long-lost master, Odysseus, whom she had also served as a nurse when he was young. She told the traveler about how long her master has been missing and she noted, too, that by then Odysseus would be about the same age and of about the same build as the man whose feet she was washing. Now when Odysseus had been a young boy, he was once gored by a wild boar, leaving a nasty scar on his leg. As Euryclea went about her servile task, suddenly her hand brushed against that old scar and instantly her eyes were opened and she recognized, with great joy, her beloved friend and master!
Recognition scenes like that have long exercised a strong pull on the human heart. Sometimes this can be used for comedic effect, as in any number of episodes on the old I Love Lucy show when Lucy would disguise herself so as to worm her way into one of her husband, Rickie's, shows. And you always waited eagerly for that moment when Desi Arnaz's eyes would widen right before he'd exclaim, "Luuucccy!" But such shocks of recognition are also the stuff of high drama, as in The Odyssey and any number of plays, novels, and films across the centuries. And, of course, in also Luke 24.
Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations
But he was not always a saint. Before he was converted at age 29 he lived to fulfill every lust and pleasure. But Augustine had one great quality that saved his pitiful life - a praying mother. She never gave up on him until one day he stopped long enough to listen to the voices around him. Augustine had just heard a sermon by Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan.
"One day, under deep conviction: I cast myself down I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, giving full vent to my tears; and the floods of mine eyes gushed out...So was I weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighboring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting and oft repeating, "Take up and read; Take up and read." Instantly, my countenance altered, I began to think most intently whether children were wont in any kind of play to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like.
So checking the torrent of my tears, I arose; interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book, and read the first chapter I should find... Eagerly then I returned to the place where Alypius (his friend) was sitting; for there had I laid the volume of the Apostle. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: 'Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh...' No further would I read; nor needed I for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away."
Being careful not to make any noises he stepped over sticks and leaves. The owl was in a deep sleep because it never heard Walter Elias walking toward it. Finally, standing under the owl, he reached up and grabbed the owl by the legs. Now, the events that followed are difficult to explain. Suddenly everything was utter chaos. The owl came to life. Walter's thoughts about keeping the bird as a pet were quickly forgotten. The air filled with wings, and feathers, and screaming. In the excitement Walter held the legs tighter. And in his panic, Walter Elias, still holding on to the owl, threw it to the ground and stomped it to death. After things calmed down, Walter looked at the now dead and bloody bird and began to cry. He ran back to the farm, obtained a shovel, and buried the owl in the orchard.
At night he would dream of that owl. As the years passed he never got over what had happened that summer day. Deep down it affected him for the rest of his life. As an older man he said he never, ever killed anything again. Do you see it? Something significant happened after that event. Something that Walter didn’t miss. Something which transformed Walter Elias, something that redeemed him from the pit of despair, something that resurrected him, something that made Walter Elias into someone who we all have experienced in some way. You see his name changed to Walt Disney who created Mickey Mouse, Goofy and all those wonderful cartoon animals.