Homily begins at 1:47:00 in the video below, and you can read the homily below the video.
As our Liturgy tonight suggests, there is something new and unheard of that happened in the resurrection of Jesus. As his earthly ministry was a fulfillment of all that was said about him in the Scriptures, Prophets and Psalms, so now in the resurrection we discover the fulfillment of what he preached, that he would suffer, die and rise again on the third day. Just as the disciples did not quite understand what that meant, even for us who are still in the world, though we believe it as a matter of faith, if we are honest must admit there is still much about it that we do not yet grasp as well.
The Scripture accounts make it clear that Jesus’ resurrection was just that – his dead body rose to new life. Only now, this transformed body of the risen Jesus manifests the fullness of his glory as both Son of Man and Son of God. It is clearly the same body, as it bears the marks of the nails and the open side that was pierced by a lance. However, people are slow to recognize the risen Jesus. Now, rather than arriving and departing from some place, he suddenly appears, and just as quickly vanishes. The incarnate body of Jesus during his earthly ministry, which was subject to the laws of nature, and rarely manifested his physical glory as God, is no longer held bound by earth, and the glory of God shines about him. He still carries on conversations, is still able to take food and drink, but clearly now is destined to return to the Father.
One resurrection account also makes reference to the body of the risen one, when Jesus tells Mary Magdalene: “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” (John 20:17) One would think that making a visit to the Father would have been the first inclination of the risen Jesus! But this instruction clearly indicates that Jesus’ mission on earth is not yet complete.
In the Gospel we heard tonight, Jesus tells the women to go tell his disciples to go to Galilee where he will meet them; “where they will see him.” (Matthew 28:10) On several different occasions, Jesus appears to the disciples to make sure they clearly understand and believe in his resurrection. It is imperative that he now embolden them to receive and carry on his mission in the world. And Jesus assures them: “I am with you until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
You see, my friends, the resurrection, salvation, is about much more than the simple forgiveness of sins. The resurrection expands our understanding of who
God is, and who the human person is. Our humanity, in bodily form, in the Risen Christ, now sits at the right hand of God in heaven for all eternity. Think of it – the body is now a part of God! At the same time, a bit of our own humanity, in bodily form, in the Risen Christ, is now in God.
What wondrous love is this?!
Just as the Risen Christ is a new and transformed being – still Jesus – fully human and divine – but now exploding with the eternal Life of God in all its glory – in all its brilliance – this has significance for us and what the real meaning and potential of our salvation entails. Resurrection means a total transformation of our life, our entire being, body and spirit; all accomplished by the divine love and mercy of our God. In the Risen Christ, we have become a transfigured humanity.
When I grew up, I was blessed to live in a large family, an extended family, through whom I inherited our faith. I can never be thankful enough for that singular gift! I knew Christ as a matter of faith, believed in his presence in the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and in the Church. But I also recall as a young adult, and the many times since, where I have met the person – the Risen Jesus. Salvation IS the Risen Jesus. As with the apostles and all who have witnessed to their faith in the Risen One down through the ages, I have met Christ, and know his personal love and mercy for me – and he is the reason I stand before you today as a priest and bishop – as your archbishop. It is his love for me, and mine for him that gets me out of bed every day to go where he leads and do to the best of my ability what he asks of me.
The Risen One wants each of you and all of us to know him personally, and I pray you already do. And if you do not, know as with the disciples after the resurrection, he goes before you, and you will see him.
Of all the Scripture passages I wish to leave you with tonight, I turn to the Book of Job:
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the earth. … and from my flesh I will see God; I will see for myself, my own eyes, not another’s, will behold him: my inmost being is consumed with longing.” (20:25-27)
Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!
PS: Much of the inspiration for the preaching this Holy Week and Easter came from Romano Guardini in his book The Lord.0