Christ Is Risen! Blessings of Easter to you.
This is my homily for Easter Sunday March 31, 2013. I am a Catholic chaplain in Teaneck at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association and at New Jersey City University (NJCU) in Jersey City. We celebrate Catholic Mass - during Fall and Spring semester - every Sunday Evening (5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.) at the FDU University Interfaith Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck, NJ.
[__01] We have just read from John’s Gospel - chapter 20, verses 1 through 9 – in which Mary Magdalene rises at dawn to go to the tomb of our Savior.
We might say that the prerequisites – the prerequisites -- of suffering and crucifixion have been satisfied while the students (disciples) have been “off campus” …. in hiding.
The darkness of suffering and crucifixion have preceded the light of resurrection.
The darkness is over – the darkness and suffering and death – have already served their purposes. Jesus is no longer in the dark.
[__02] The darkness and light are part of the lessons – and realities of our lives.
Darkness and light are in the life of the Magdalene, of Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene represents us as a believer and as a mourner, as one who is grieving.
Isn’t it true at a time of grief – a time of death of a beloved person – that darkness is hard to overcome?
Grief – and sorrow – comprise a journey – physically or figuratively – to consider both the life and death of someone.
Grief is also the process that enables to express great love, gratitude, while professing our faith in eternal life and in a reunion in heaven.
Mary Magdalene is such a mourner one who is aware of death but also moving closer to new life. She wakes up very early to get there, to begin this journey.
[__03] The darkness and light are part of the lessons – and realities of our lives. This is true in our studies and work.
The darkness of 11:00 pm or 5:00 am may be necessary to complete the prerequisites of pain and suffering of academics.
We may stay up late or rise early, going contrary to the patterns of others.
Sometimes, we seek out the darkness as a rare time of peace and quiet.
The darkness provides precious time to concentrate.
[__04] Yet, the darkness is meant to lead us into the light.
That is, our ultimate objective – in work – is not simply the acquisition of more gifts or even more talents for their own sake. Rather, we acquiring money, talent, wealth … so that these can be shared with our families, with our loved ones, or for other loving purposes.
Taken to the extreme, I think we have all witnessed what wealth, and fame and power can do to some people.
Wealth and power are good things which enable us to love and to give. They are not, however, our ultimate objective.
In our Catholic tradition, we learn this. Cardinal John Henry Newman reminds us that we work not only for the spotlight … but also sometimes in darkness where only God can see us. If we only want the fame… we may not be where God wants us to be:
“[often many of us will ] measure happiness by wealth; and by wealth they measure respectability... It is a homage resulting from a profound faith... that with wealth [we / you and I] may do all things.” (CCC Catechism 1723, John Henry Newman)
We have however a different light and power sources in our faith in Jesus -- “[teaching us] that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement -- however beneficial it may be -- such as science, technology and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love” (CCC Catechism 1723)
[__05] Easter Sunday, Jesus has risen from the tomb. He invites us into the light so that we can dwell in daylight.
Mary Magdalene, as a model, has risen early also – at Zero Dark Thirty to discover the Risen Lord.