Here’s how Easter happens: you roll away your stone, and I’ll roll away mine. Whatever needs to be done in your life, it’s you who needs to do it. True, the dark recesses of our minds and hearts can frighten, which is why we do these things in the company of friends. But you have to roll away your stone. I have to roll away mine. Easter is about facing down fear and breaking free.
– Galen Guengerich (All Souls Unitarian Church, New York City)
The readings for Easter Sunday cycle A can be found here.
The scripture scholar will tell you that none of the writings of the New Testament has Church as a central topic. In the four Gospels Jesus only mentions Church once by name and in only one other instance is there even a mention of Church community.
Although the makeup of many of our Church traditions, such as the sacraments, are attributed to Jesus there is no textual support in the scriptures that He had any real plans. Now, before you grab your pitchforks and light your torches to hunt me down, let me explain further. In the Gospels when the Evangelists put the words “do this in remembrance of me” into the mouth of Jesus at the last supper keep in mind that it only appeared in two of the four. First it appeared in Matthew and then again in Luke, but there is a belief that the writers of Luke’s Gospel had Matthew’s Gospel to copy from. Since there are no other comparable events in the other Gospels it is believed that these words were purely the convictions of the early Church community and not actually spoken by Jesus.
Even though the New Testament does not have the Church community as a central topic it is central to us. We wouldn’t have Easter without community.
The Via Lucis
…the faithful process while meditating on the various appearances of Jesus – from his Resurrection to his Ascension – in which he showed his glory to the disciples who awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14, 26; 16, 13-15; Lk 24, 49),
Through the Via Lucis, the faithful recall the central event of the faith – the resurrection of Christ – and their discipleship in virtue of Baptism, the paschal sacrament by which they have passed from the darkness of sin to the bright radiance of the light of grace (cf. Col 1, 13; Ef 5, 8).
…the Via Lucis, when celebrated in fidelity to the Gospel text, can effectively convey a living understanding to the faithful of the second moment of the Pascal event, namely the Lord’s Resurrection.
Using the metaphor of a journey, the Via Lucis moves from the experience of suffering… to the hope of arriving at man’s true end: liberation, joy and peace which are essentially paschal values.
– DIRECTORY ON POPULAR PIETY AND THE LITURGY PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES (CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS) 2001
This Easter homily focuses on community. Our community of love your neighbor must also be the Easter celebration community. I would like to introduce you to Martha’s Village & Kitchen who have been building community for the past 20 years. They specialize in loving their neighbor and helping them to get back on their feet. If they need housing, food, assistance with medical help and drug addiction recovery they can get it in Martha’s Village. There is a mandatory two week motivational program to help people gain control over their lives. God is clearly at work in this community. Maybe you know of an organization like Martha’s Village who you support currently. Why not share it with others this Easter.
As an Easter offering to you I would like to suggest a book; GREAT LOVE: The Mary Jo Copeland Story. Mary Jo Copeland was the winner of the Presidential Citizenship Award in 2012, and is referred to as America’s Mother Teresa. Her story is community affirming and just the thing to read this Easter. Mary Jo’s organization can be found here.
Christianity did not grow because of miracle working in the marketplaces (although there may have been much of that going on), or because Constantine said it should, or even because the martyrs gave it such credibility. It grew because Christians constituted an intense community, able to generate the “invincible obstinacy” that so offended the younger Pliny but yielded immense religious rewards. And the primary means of its growth was through the united and motivated efforts of the growing numbers of Christian believers, who invited their friends, relatives, and neighbors to share the “good news.”
– PBS Frontline
If you take one thing away from this homily it should be the importance of community. We wouldn’t have our religious practices and traditions without community. As you look around yourself this Easter take a minute to be in the moment and appreciate your community before the sugar high from the chocolate bunny begins to kick in. Thank you for being in my community.