HAPPY EASTER!!!    Here is my homily for EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 16, 2017.  The readings for today can be found at: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/041617.cfm (Gospel is the second one from Matthew).  Thanks as always for reading, for sharing this blog on Reddit, Twitter and Facebook – and for you feedback and comments.  So grateful for your interest!  God’s blessings to you and your family for a Joyous Easter!!!  Fr Jim

As I’m getting older I’ve noticed some changes… less hair, which happens to be more grey… recently having to get glasses… and even more surprising to me – I’m becoming a bit more schmaltzy… What I mean by that, is that I kind of find myself getting moved to tears a bit more often than I ever used to. Like the other night: 

On ABC World News Tonight, host David Muir told this heartwarming story about Noel Stafford of Lakeland Florida. For 66 years, Noel has been “color blind.” On his birthday, his children and grand children had a surprise for Noel, which his grandson Carson captured on video. As Grandpa Stafford is seated with a smile on his face, he opens his gift and is kind of perplexed as he reads the label “color for the colorblind.” His family had all chipped in to purchased a pair of EnChroma glasses – an amazing new product that helps people who are color-blind to see in color. His son tries to explain that once he puts these glasses on, he will be able to see things how the majority of us sees. Noel kind of has this look of disbelief on his face, as he quickly opens the box and removes the glasses from their plastic wrapping: So.. I can put these on, and I will see things how they’re supposed to be? He asks… as he puts them on… And he does, and he looks for maybe a second, and takes them off, he is so overwhelmed that he starts to cry and can’t hardly talk. He puts them on again, and again, takes them off, he literally cannot believe what he is seeing, as his daughter Molly comes and hugs him as she breaks down in tears. It’s unbelievable to him… It can’t be real. This man who’s been a landscaper for most of his life, who could never see the vibrance, the different hues and shades and splendor of the flowers, grasses, trees and plants he’s been working with his whole life – instantly sees it all in it’s glory. Finally, he puts the glasses on a third time, sits back in his chair, and just has this profound look of happiness – something even more than that — this look of awe at how quickly his vision has changed forever.
(you can see it here:   

In a way that is even more profound

In a way that is even more historic

In a way that is meant to be a remedy to every human being who is plagued by signs, by experiences of death – Easter comes and is meant to change our vision forever.

Just look at what happens in this Gospel account we just heard from Matthew about Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. They who had witnessed Jesus’ brutal, horrific, grotesque passion… They who had seen his dead body taken down from the cross… They who had watched as the body of Jesus is laid in a tomb and sealed… They go to the tomb to mourn, to grieve, to try to make sense of the senseless – and any or rather all of us who’ve experienced mourning, grieving know how maddening that can be. They go with tear-filled visions to a grave – not wanting the nightmare they experienced to be real, but needing to see it for themselves, to confirm its awful reality, its finality in their lives.

And, in an instant, their vision is changed. There’s a great earthquake… An angel rolls back the stone… The guards run away in fear… The angel tells them to not be afraid but to look and see the place where he lay… but where he lays no more as the tomb is empty. They see Jesus, risen from the dead. Truly alive, having conquered death – telling them “do not be afraid.”

My brothers and sisters – these women’s testimonies, as well as the testimonies of the apostles who became even more credible witnesses by offering their very lives. The apostles accepted equally brutal, terrifying, horrific deaths as martyrs. Deaths which they almost eagerly embraced rather than deny this amazing event of Jesus rising from the dead and His presence with and among them for 40 days afterward. These witnessesare meant to change our vision as well.

That as we suffer betrayals,
as we endure our own passions,
as we suffer under the weight of our own crosses…

Jesus, the risen one’s words to those first witnesses, He now speaks to us Do Not Be Afraid:

All the sufferings we endure,
all the losses we’ve experienced are not the end of the story. 
Death does not have the final word.  

For Grandpa Stafford, as the video of his birthday surprise closed out, you saw him enjoying a colorful animated film with his family with an excitement that seemed to surpass that of the most curious child experiencing something for the first time. He marvels during one scene of a sunset as he says ” See how the sun goes down like that… [Before] it was all fuzz and haze… it wasn’t like a distant ray.” The joy of Easter is meant to change the way we see things, too. To see how the hatred, the shame, the selfishness of that first Good Friday, and the Good Fridays continue in our own day that cast fuzz and haze on our lives and our faith – that it can be transformed with the eyes of Easter faith. We can see it in every act of love, every movement of compassion , in every offering of forgiveness, in every embrace of reconciliation, in every instance of justice and peace. 

May you and I be witnesses of these things and help to bring that vision to a world that desperately needs and longs to see the Risen Christ alive in our midsts. Happy Easter!