Saturday, April 3, 2010

Overheard in Jerusalem: Good News (4 April 2010, Easter Sunday)

This is my Sunday homily for 4 April 2010, Easter Sunday for FDU Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, Newman Catholic Association (Teaneck, NJ). Mass is Sunday 7:30 p.m. during Fall and Spring Semester. To view the readings, go to and click “April 4” in the calendar.

[__01.] Have you heard what they are saying about …. [ ] ?

There’s a blank which we could fill in. Fill in the blank.

While our news and information may appear visually in different forms – video, newspapers, billboards, texting – what we also desire is to hear the news and interpret and re-tell it ourselves.

That’s why we mingle, to ask the questions, “Have your heard about…” or “What have you heard about…” [someone] or [something].

And, we fill in the blanks ourselves. We want to know if what they are saying is true, whoever they are.

So, we mingle – on the playground, at the party, at the office, on campus, in the SUB, in our classrooms, in class, before class, after class -- to be alert to and apprehend what people are talking about.

[__02.] After the Passion and Death of Jesus, after Good Friday, the disciples are not been mingling – to say the least.

They have neither been heard nor seen; and, they are hiding out on the edge of town.

[__03.] They are locked in the upper room. They might be talking but they are probably not listening to each other.

Then comes the morning of the Resurrection. First, they hear that the tomb is empty from Mary Magdalene.

And, they start to move toward the action, toward the tomb. Peter and the others might remember what they have heard and overheard before at another tomb, at the tomb of Lazarus. They overhear Martha and Jesus speaking to each other.

" Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother [Lazarus] would not have died. (But) even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise." Martha said to him, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this, [Martha]?"

And, what we overhear is Martha’s profession of faith:

Martha says to Jesus, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world." (John 11:21-26)

[__04.] This is the Good News that reminds that the good we do and the suffering we endure has a meaning even beyond today, even beyond this semester, or even beyond this summer, this degree.

It might take us some time to apprehend this to learn this. It will not appear in our GPA (grade point average).

Even in the Gospel today, we hear, “For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” (John 20:9)

That’s the final verse of the Gospel.

“For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” (John 20:9)

[__05.] … Reminding us that the Holy Spirit has not yet come to enlighten the Church concerning the divine mysteries. Some are slower than others at believing in the Lord’s death and resurrection the third day.

It will take a while for some to hear – and to overhear – the Good News. And, some are slower than others at believing.

And, we ourselves may go through those same ups and downs. We may feel some days we have a lot of faith, some days we only have a little bit of faith. Some days, we have the faith of the large mustard plant fully grown. Or other days, we only have the faith of the tiny mustard seed. Jesus says we only need the littlest bit of faith, the tiny seed which he will nurture ..and help us to grow. (cf., Matthew 13:31-32)

He is going to help us to do the rest. His inner circle – Peter even - demonstrates the ups and downs of belief and are on a long walk with their Savior as are we.

What will also help is to do what the disciples do today: Listen.

[__06.] Listening is a virtue. The New Testament, the Good News – the Best News – advises us about this:

In the letter of St. James we read:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19 )

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

This is advice that we can all take that I can take for myself.

Listening is part of our Christian discipline and communion, calling us to patience not only with the person who may talk too much but also to call us to patience with the person who may not talk enough.

And, to call us to patience with someone in our families, the someone whom everybody thinks is strange, weird.

[__07.] And, what we are called to do is not just to TOLERATE this person but actually to listen, to be Christ for this person.

To listen actively, to ask appropriate questions.

Maybe that person is a very young person. Maybe that person is an older person to whom few people pay attention.

And, we are called to respect life in the way that we treat such individuals. It is not easy, but it is part of our Christian communion to so, that we listen, hear and that we even listen to what we are overhearing.

[__08.] Overhearing… is also part of this. I’m not suggesting that we actually engage in … wiretapping or eavesdropping or … reading someone else’s mail.

This is new type of Homeland Security that we observe and listen even to things not directly addressed to us.

[__09(a).] This happens not only at the Easter dinner table with our family and relatives to whom we listen – but also happens at …

AT SCHOOL - listening to the questions our classmates and ask, even the questions we were afraid or reluctant to ask. We learn from those questions.

[__09(b).] AT HOME – listen not only to what your mothers and fathers tell you..but also to what they say and don’t say to other people in the family. We learn to love – and we learn who to love and trust – by listening to what they say…

It also a priceless source of “intelligence” to observe how the people we know (or think we know) behave in their family circle.

If you were to go over to your friend’s house and were to observe how your friend is treating his or her mother / father, you would learn a lot about their character

Spouses (and future spouses) learn a lot about each other through their visits to the home of the other person’s family.

So, listening is part of the Good News.

[__10.] The Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord reminds us to keep our ears open and to keep going.

Even if we hear and overhear bad news at times, Jesus’ victory over sin and death is the Good News that we receive not just in our ears (which are imperfect and which are subject to noise outside and distraction) but also in our consciences and hearts where he dwells with us.

Remember the Good News we hear today, this day, the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad. [__end__]

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