The first reading from the Acts, is part of an early sermon of St. Peter on the feast of Pentecost, his very first after the resurrection. He tells us how he is a witness of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Without the resurrection Jesus' life and ours would be a total failure, with the resurrection every moment of His ministry has a new meaning and every moment of our own can take on a new significance. Peter in this sermon reminds his listeners that Jesus is Lord of all and that his message is a message of hope and peace. He emphasizes that every believer is called to be a witness of the Lord's life, death and resurrection. We are called to be witnesses of the resurrection, but the glory of the resurrection is realized in us only when we have accepted the many crosses that come our way leading us to new life.
Broken and made more beautiful
A story is told of an eastern village that, through the centuries, was known for its exquisite pottery. Especially striking were its urns; high as tables, wide as chairs, they were admired around the globe for their strong form and delicate beauty. Legend has it that when each urn was apparently finished, there was one final step. The artist broke it - and then put it back together with gold filigree. An ordinary urn was then transformed into a priceless work of art. What seemed finished wasn't, until it was broken
The Gospel begins with Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. She knows the stone has to be rolled away, and she also knows that she cannot do it by herself. Maybe she believes that the Lord will provide and he will take care of it all- and he does! Maybe Mary's attitude should be a great encouragement for us all. We can't remove the boulder that blocks us and prevents us from bursting forth into new life. But the Lord is there for us and He will do it for us! She saw but she did not believe. The Apostles would not accept the conclusion that Jesus must have risen from the dead. It takes wonderful news a long time to seep into our consciousness, and convince us that Jesus has risen from the dead. Peter and John did not believe but ran to the tomb to check out for themselves and remained baffled in their unbelief. Finally, they both went into the tomb, they began to understand the scriptures, they saw and they believed. The Gospel
tells us that Mary stood outside the tomb, weeping and looking into the tomb to see where they had laid his body. She sees Jesus but still does not recognize him. Finally Jesus reveals himself to her as he calls her by her name: "Mary!" This narrative of the resurrection reminds us that we come to the full understanding of the resurrection not through our intelligence but purely through the gift of the Spirit. Left on our own we look for the Lord in the wrong places, among the dead. Even when the Lord comes to us we are sometimes so caught up in our own world that we fail to recognize him. But the good news is that the Lord does not give up on us. He will reveal himself to us and call us by name so that like Mary we can say: "I have seen the Lord!" and once we have experienced the power of the resurrection nothing will ever be the same again.
My son is alive!
There was a Russian Cossack, who had two sons in the First World War. Their names were Peter and Gregory. One day the father got a letter from the front. Being unable to read he handed it to his daughter. It was from Gregory's commanding officer and began like this: "I regret to inform you that your son Gregory was killed in action on July 10th. Gregory was an excellent soldier and died the death of the brave. You have every reason to be proud of him, etc." The effect of this news on the father was immediate and alarming. He seemed to wilt visibly. In a matter of days he aged, turning grey almost overnight. His memory began to fail and even his mind was affected. He began to drink to excess. He kept the letter under an icon in the kitchen. Each day he would take it down and ask his daughter to read it to him once more. After the local priest had offered a Requiem Mass for his son he felt a little better, only a little. Twelve days went on like this. On
the thirteenth day a second letter arrived from the front. It contained a fantastic piece of good news. His son wasn't dead after all! He had been wounded and left for dead on the battlefield. Next morning he had come to and crawled four miles back to his own lines, dragging a wounded officer with him. He was to be raised to the rank of a corporal, and had been awarded the Cross of St. George in recognition of his bravery. Right now he was recovering in hospital, and they could expect a visit from him in a month's time. Once again the effect on the father was immediate, except this time it was for the better. He was a sight to see. He was scalded with joy. He grabbed the letter and went into the village with it. He stopped everyone he met. "What do you think?" he would ask. "My son is alive! He's been awarded the St. George's Cross for bravery!" -This story should give us some idea of the joy the disciples experienced on Easter Sunday morning. At the Resurrection the Father as it were cries out: "My son is alive!" As we celebrate this same resurrection we also can cry out: "He is alive! I have seen him! I have experienced His power! We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!
Flor McCarthy in 'Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies'
Witness to the Resurrection
In the darkest days of Stalinist Russia a special League of the Godless was established to stamp out the last vestiges of religion from people's lives. One Easter morning the Commissar of this League addressed a huge rally in Moscow's Red Square. He ranted along his usual lines that religion was the instrument of the bourgeoisie and the opium of the proletariat. At the end of his harangue he generously offered the mike to anyone who wished to debate with him. Nobody wanted a one-way ticket to Siberia until one old man made his way forward. He surveyed his huge audience, cleared his throat and began to sing: "The Lord has risen." It was the traditional Orthodox Easter greeting. Moved by the old man's courage, voices from the square swelled up in reply: "He has truly risen." Religion in Russia was not dead as long as belief in the Resurrection of Christ was not dead in people.
Sylvester O'Flynn in 'The Good News of Mark's Gospel'
Movie director Cecil B. DeMille was drifting in a canoe on a lake reading a book. He glanced from the book momentarily and saw a water beetle crawling up the side of the canoe. When it got halfway up, the beetle stuck the talons of its legs to the wood of the canoe and died. DeMille returned to reading his book. Three hours later he happened to look down at the beetle again and what he saw amazed him. The beetle had dried up, and its back had started to crack open. As he watched something began to emerge from the opening: first a moist head, then wings, then a tail. It was a beautiful dragonfly. As the dragonfly flew away, DeMille took his finger and nudged the dried-out shell of the beetle. It was like a tomb. -This beautiful death-resurrection experience from nature helps us to appreciate better what happened on Easter Sunday.
Mark Link in 'Sunday Homilies'
Risen from the dead
Roger Bolduc was a victim of cancer. Until he died in 1977, he never ceased to believe that his illness was a precious gift from God. Shortly before his death he wrote: "Many things upon which I placed importance in the past seem so trivial now, they just don't seem to matter anymore. This has become precious. God has become so real. I can feel his power - it's always there. I feel that God has answered my prayers." Bolduc concluded by saying that he always knew God loved him, but he had no idea God loved him so much. -This is a beautiful example of the power of the risen Jesus at work in someone's life today. Roger Bolduc literally died and rose spiritually. And so we don't have to wait until we die to share in the risen life and risen power of Jesus. We can share in it right now, at this moment.?
Mark Link in 'Sunday Homilies'
All that God does he does well
Rabbi Moshe took a trip to a strange land. He took a donkey, a rooster, and a lamp. Since he was a Jew, he was refused hospitality in the village inns, so he decided to sleep in the woods. He lit his lamp to study the holy books before going to sleep, but a fierce wind came up, knocking over the lamp and breaking it. The rabbi decided to turn in, saying, "All that God does, he does well." During the night some wild animals came along and drove away the rooster and thieves stole the donkey. Moshe woke up, saw the loss, but still proclaimed easily, "All that God does, he does well." The rabbi then went back to the village where he was refused lodging, only to learn that enemy soldiers had invaded it during the night and killed all the inhabitants. He also learned that these soldiers had traveled through the same part of the woods where he lay asleep. Had his lamp not been broken he would have been discovered. Had not the rooster been chased, it would have
crowed, giving him away. Had not the donkey been stolen, it would have brayed. So once more Rabbi Moshe declared, "All that God does, he does well!"
Jesus gives us Hope
Michael Faraday was a famous scientist. One day his servant came into his drawing room, dropped his silver vessel on the ground and broke it into pieces. Michael collected all the pieces of the vessel and put them into a chemical solution and made one mass of it and then shaped a beautiful cup from the same material. This new creation was much more beautiful than the earlier one. It was the same silver that appeared in a different form. The Resurrection of Christ tells us that our earthly bodies will be transformed into a new life.
Elias Dias in "Divine Stories for Families"
That old man knows the Shepherd
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the Gospel truth'
Recognizing the Master
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the gospel truth'
Does anyone care?
Mark Link in 'Decision'
Gary Thomas, Christian Times, October 3, 1994, p. 26.
Well over three hundred verses are concerned with the subject of Jesus' resurrection in the New Testament. We are told that this event is a sign for unbelievers (Matthew 12:38-40); cf. John 20:24-29) as well as the answer for the believer's doubt (Luke 24:38-43). It serves as the guarantee that Jesus' teachings are true (Acts 2:22-24; 1 Corrinthians 15:12-20) and is the center of the gospel itself (Romans 4:24-25, 10:9; 1 Corrinthians 15:1-4). Further, the resurrection is the impetus for evangelism (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 10:39-43), the key indication of the believer's daily power to live the Christian life (Rom. 6:4-14, 8:9-11; Phil. 3:10) and the reason for the total commitment of our lives (Rom. 7:4; 1 Cor. 15:57-58). The resurrection even addresses the fear of death (John 11:25; 1 Cor. 15:54-58; cf. Hebrews 2:14-15) and is related to the second coming of Jesus (Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7). Lastly, this event is a model of the Christian's resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:2; 1 Cor. 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and provides a foretaste of heaven for the believer (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Peter 1:3-5). For a popular treatment that addresses these and other aspects, see Gary R. Habermas, The Centrality of the Resurrection.
Gary R. Habermas & J.P. Moreland, Immortality - The Other Side of Death, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992, p. 245.
In one of his lighter moments, Benjamin Franklin penned his own epitaph. He didn't profess to be a born-again Christian, but it seems he must have been influenced by Paul's teaching of the resurrection of the body. Here's what he wrote: The Body of B. Franklin, Printer Like the Cover of an old Book Its contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Guilding, Lies here, Food for Worms, But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ'd, Appear once more In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended by the Author.
Little Philip, born with Down's syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday School class with several eight-year-old boys and girls. Typical of that age, the children did not readily accept Philip with his differences, according to an article in leadership magazine. But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully.
The Sunday after Easter the teacher brought L'eggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large eggs. Each receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that lovely spring day, find some symbol for new life, and put it in the egg-like container. Back in the classroom, they would share their new-life symbols, opening the containers one by one in surprise fashion. After running about the church property in wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom and placed the containers on the table. Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them one by one. After each one, whether a flower, butterfly, or leaf, the class would ooh and ahh.
Then one was opened, revealing nothing inside. The children exclaimed, That's stupid. That's not fair. Somebody didn't do their assignment."
Philip spoke up, "That's mine."
"Philip, you don't ever do things right!" the student retorted. "There's nothing there!"
"I did so do it," Philip insisted. "I did do it. It's empty. the tomb was empty!"
Silence followed. From then on Philip became a full member of the class. He died not long afterward from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off. At the funeral this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar not with flowers, but with their Sunday school teacher, each to lay on it an empty pantyhose egg.
If we stay in mourning, we lose so much of life.
Henry Simon, Belleville, Illinois.
Why We Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead:
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, the Christian faith is a foolish fantasy. However, if the resurrection of Christ did occur, it confirms His life, message, and atoning work. It is the basis of our hope of life beyond the grave. Christ is alive, and the evidence is overwhelming. Here are some of the reasons we can be so sure.
1. Jesus predicted His resurrection (Matt 16:21; Mark 9:9-10; John 2:18-22).
2. The Old Testament prophesied it (Psalm 16:10; compare Acts 2:25-31; 13:33-37).
3. The tomb was empty and the grave clothes vacant. if those who opposed Christ wished to silence His disciples, all they had to do was produce a body, but they could not (John 20:3-9).
4. Many people saw the resurrected Christ. They looked on His face, touched Him, heard His voice, and saw Him eat (Matt. 28:16-20; Luke 24:13-39; John 20:11-29; John 21:1-9; Acts 1:6-11; 1 Cor. 15:3-8).
5. The lives of the disciples were revolutionized. Though they fled and even denied Christ at the time of His arrest, they later feared no one in their proclamation of the risen Christ (Matt 26:56, 69-75).6. The resurrection was the central message of the early church. The church grew with an unwavering conviction that Christ had risen and was the Lord of the church (Acts 4:33; 5:30-32; Rom. 5:24).
6. Men and women today testify that the power of the risen Christ has transformed their lives. We know that Jesus is alive not only because of the historical and biblical evidence but also because He has miraculously touched our lives.
Kurt E. DeHaan.
Order of the Events of the Resurrection
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome start for the tomb, Lk 23:55-24:1
They find the stone rolled away, Lk 24:2-9
Mary Magdalene goes to tell the disciples, Jn 20:1-2
Mary, the mother of James, draws near and sees the angel, Mt 28:1-2
She goes back to meet the other women following with spices
Meanwhile Peter and John arrive, look in and depart, Jn 20:3-10
Mary Magdalene returns weeping, sees two angels, then Jesus, Jn 20:11-18
The risen Christ bids her tell the disciples, Jn 20:17-18
Mary (mother of James) meanwhile returns with the women, Lk 24:1-4
They return and see the two angels, Lk 24:5; Mk 16:5
They also hear the angel's message, Mt 28:6-8
On their way to find the disciples, they are met by the risen Christ, Mt 28:9-10
To Mary Magdalene Jn 20:14-18; Mk 16:9
To the women returning from the tomb Mt 28:8-10
To Peter later in the day Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5
To the disciples going to Emmaus in the evening Lk 24:13-31
To the apostles (except Thomas) Lk 24:36-45; Jn 20-19-24
To the apostles a week later (Thomas present) Jn 20:24-29
In Galilee to the seven by the Lake of Tiberias Jn 21:1-23
In Galilee on a mountain to the apostles and 500 believers 1 Cor 15:6
At Jerusalem and Bethany again to James 1 Cor 15:7
At Olivet and the ascension Acts 1:3-12
To Paul near Damascus Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor 15:8
To Stephen outside Jerusalem Acts 7:55
To Paul in the temple Acts 22:17-21; 23:11
To John on Patmos Rev 1:10-19
Merril F. Unger, The New Unger's Bible Handbook, Revised by Gary N. Larson, Moody Press, Chicago, 1984, pp. 397-398.
The film Amadeus ends showing the funeral of the great musician Mozart. He died at the age of 35. A genius, he never re-copied his compositions. He never had to make corrections, so the first draft was also the final copy. A genius, he started playing several instruments at the age of four, wrote several symphonies by the age of eight and created at least 528 musical compositions before he died at age 35. He was a genius, whom one authority calls "one of the brightest stars in the musical firmament." What a waste, that he should have died so young! It makes you wonder: is this life all there is? Imagine a beloved spouse, a darling parent or grandparent, a close friend, lying cold in the coffin. Is this life all there is? We try to comfort ourselves with the doctrine of the resurrection. We say: the genius of people like Mozart is not going to be wasted. The love of dear ones - the squeeze of their hands and the music in their voices - that love will be enjoyed in even greater intensity. A Sadducee in Jesus’ time might say, "I don't believe it; the doctrine is absurd." That was the point the Sadducees wanted to make by challenging Jesus with an absurd story of a woman who married seven husbands, in today’s gospel. (From Tony Kadavil's collection)
Fr. Tony Kadavil:
The Consul, after hearing of the death of the mother-in-law, told George that the sending of a body back to the States for burial is very, very expensive. It could cost as much as $5,000. The Consul continued, “In most cases the person responsible for the remains normally decides to bury the body here. This would only cost $150.” George thought for some time and answered, “I don’t care how much it will cost to send the body back; that’s what I want to do.”
Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear through his side…put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens.” Sincerely, Charles.
Humor for Easter
Nothing is certain except vat and taxes?!?
Lasting Palm Sunday Impressions
My wife planned an activity for our two and one-half year old daughter during the week following Palm Sunday. After having her cut and paste brightly colored construction paper coats and palm branches on a picture of Jesus riding into Jerusalem, she spread coats in our hallway, and the three of us walked over them, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" A couple of days later, we reminded Jamie that the following Sunday was Easter. "Do you know what that means?" her mother asked. "Yes!" Jamie chirped enthusiastically. "We're going to church, and Jesus is going to come and walk on our coats!"
Good Friday Humor
This is a true story, told to me by a Sunday School teacher: She was teaching the children about the meaning of Good Friday and asked the group if any of them knew what happened to Jesus on that day. "Sure," piped up a little boy, "he got hammered!"
The Gravestone Message
The following caption was found written on a gravestone...
"As I am now, you soon shall be, so be content to follow me."
Then someone taped the following note on that gravestone...
"To follow you I'm not content, until I know which way you went!"
This happened a couple of Easters ago.
He comes to church once a year--always on Easter. I'm glad to have this local rancher join us in worship and I shook his hand heartily as he left the church.
"Great to worship with you today!" I said.
"Really?" he responded.
"Sure. It's always good to have you with us on Easter," I said.
He scratched his head. "Well, maybe I'd come more often if you'd preach about something different!" -- Rev. E. Marie Gasau
One Easter, a family (Mom, Dad, boy age 9) that seldom went to church, decided to go. After church the Mom said, "I thought the choir was a little off key." The Dad said, "Well, the preacher's message was bland, too." Whereupon the boy said, "I thought they put on a pretty good show for the nickel you put in the collection plate." BB-AL
This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Jones to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.
In the Secret Service
A gentleman was in front of me coming out of church one day. The preacher grabbed him by the hand, pulled him aside and said to him, "You need to join the Army of the Lord!"
My friend replied, "I'm already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor."
The Pastor questioned, "How come I don't see you except at Christmas and Easter?"
He whispered back, "I'm in the secret service. "