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Fr. Tim’s Homily for Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018

 

Easter Sunday

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Acts of the Apostles 10: 34a, 37-43

Colossians 3: 1-4

John 20: 1-9

 

Not leaving important things until the last minute is very good advice for living.  And so, I am sure that many of you have pre-planned your funerals – yes?  Maybe even what is going to appear on your grave marker –  except for the final date, of course.  Yet what people have put on their cemetery stones can sometimes cause a smile.  Here are some classic epitaphs:

 

Here lies Johnny Yeast.
Pardon me…for not rising.
 
Here is another:
 
Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake.
Stepped on the gas
Instead of the brake.
 
Here is one from the Old West:
 
Here lies Lester Moore.
Four slugs from a 44.
No Les, no more.
 
This one is from Massachusetts:
 
Under the sod and under the trees
Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.
He is not here. There’s only the pod.
Pease shelled out and went to God.
 

Now see if you can find a common thread with these epitaphs and this man’s experience:

A man standing in line at the bank overheard a commotion.  A woman was shouting:  “I have all my money and my mortgage here!  What will happen to my money and my mortgage?”

Well, it turned out that she had misunderstood a sign on door of the bank:  WE WILL BE CLOSED FOR GOOD FRIDAY.

She thought that the bank was going to be closed “for good” on Friday.  Clearly Easter Sunday was not uppermost in her thoughts.

What do those epitaphs and this story have in common?  They tell us that as Christians we can even smile at death.  Jesus, by His dying and rising from the dead, has de-fanged death.

The song, “Because He Lives,” by Bill Gaither, captures this spirit so well:

 

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives.

In His resurrection at Easter we can see the lasting beauty of Jesus’ life “because He lives.”

Let me tell you a story about that the great French painter Auguste Renoir [1841-1919].  Renoir suffered from severe arthritis.  As his crippled hand would try to paint, beads of sweat would often drip from his forehead.

One of his friends, the artist Henri Matisse [1869-1954], said to Renoir:  “Why do you torture yourself this way and still try to paint?”  Renoir looked at the masterpiece that he was working on, and then replied:  “Because the beauty remains, but the pain passes.”

Easter proclaims that the pain of Jesus’ passion has passed. But the beauty of His risen life remains, “because He lives.”

At the Easter Vigil last night, I baptized seven adults and received a profession of faith from three adults who had been baptized in other Christian churches.  I offered all ten of them the Sacrament of Confirmation and their First Holy Communion.

Jesus has promised that these new members of His Church family – and all of us baptized – will rise again and live with Him forever “because He lives.”

 

May I leave you with one more epitaph:
 
Remember me, as you walk by.
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so shall you be.
Remember this and follow me.

 

Somebody who saw that epitaph scribbled these two additional lines with a piece of chalk:

 

To follow you, I’ll not consent
Until I know which way you went!

 

We, the baptized, know which way Jesus went, and we follow Him.  Because of His resurrection on that first Easter Sunday morning, we can sing and proclaim today:

 

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives.