our hope

I’m sure that most homilies you will hear at Mass this weekend will focus on the gospel reading, the  “Blessed are the…” teaching of Jesus in Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Plain. But perhaps a key to this scripture is found in the often-overlooked second reading from 1 Corinthians 15. Take a moment to read:

“If Christ raised from the dead is what has been preached, how can some of you be saying that there is no resurrection of the dead? For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, you are still in your sins. And what is more serious, all who have died in Christ have perished. If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people. But Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep.”

Jesus’ preaching is always both radical (getting to the root of things) and revolutionary (involving or causing a dramatic change). The Greek word used for conversion is metanoia: “change in one’s way of life resulting from penitence or spiritual conversion”. When Jesus preaches about the poor inheriting the kingdom most hearers don’t get it since kingdoms are created by and inherited by the successful and the wealthy.

The resurrection of Jesus destroys this stereotype. Now it is those who know their need, who experience their poverty and suffer their hunger and grief who have a capacity for the life of God.

Pope Francis preaching at Easter last year puts it bluntly:

To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our “conventions”, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us. To celebrate Easter is to allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.

The stone before the tomb shared in this, the women of the Gospel shared in this, and now the invitation is addressed once more to you and to me. An invitation to break out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions and our existence. An invitation that must be directed to where we stand, what we are doing and what we are, with the “power ratio” that is ours. Do we want to share in this message of life or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?

He is not here… he is raised! And he awaits you in Galilee. He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and he says to you: Do not be afraid, follow me.

An Invitation

  • Take a moment now to call to mind any longing, sadness, sickness, anxiety or poverty that is a part of your life today
  • Feel the similarity between your situation and that of the disciples at the death of Jesus. They had no doubt that the end had come not only for Jesus but probably for them too.
  • Now hear Pope Francis speaking directly to you: “He is not here… he is raised! And he awaits you in Galilee. He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and he says to you: Do not be afraid, follow me.”

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