This Homily, delivered to his parishioners during the present lockdown in North America by a concerned local parish priest, should remind all of us of the new environment in which we are now challenged to more cooperatively attend to one another’s needs in a world that is rapidly changing. From our current isolation, once society is opened up again, we will need to become more aware of both the local and the global need for a more caring and sharing environment – in which every human being is of equal worth, and where we each have a heart to care for, not only those near and dear to us personally but also those who are affected by the choices we make in the market place; and in the sort of politicians we elect to lead us in local and national governments. I found this homily inspiring. I hope that you will as well.
Christ is Risen, Alleluia! He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand
Fr Michael Hermes’ Easter Homily 2020 (English version)
Welcome everyone to St. Paul’s in Olathe. . . . and Happy Easter to you all. Thank you for
celebrating the Easter Resurrection here with us. There are people connected to us on
Facebook and YouTube from at least five different countries and from all over the US, including Alaska!
I’m thinking about how different life was before the pandemic. Remember when we could travel, we could have dinner with our friends, we could enjoy March Madness, we could go to school, we could go to Mass. And now, NO. For the common good of the human family, we must practice social distancing, we have to stay at home, and we have had to change some of our usual ways of living our lives. However, to be honest, I think we can agree that maybe some good/something positive has come out of this pandemic . . . I think we have a greater appreciation for all the doctors and nurses out there working so hard on our behalf. We hold our teachers in greater esteem, especially now that parents are seeing how much work it is to teach. We are polluting less since we are staying home more. Fewer cars driving around = less pollution. That is a good thing. And we have time to take up new hobbies. Fr. Agustin and I are studying French!
Many of you have reported that there is more family unity: you are eating dinner together again, having deeper conversations, praying a rosary every night. These are blessings. There is a deeper hunger for our faith. We pray to God during this crisis and ask God to deliver us. And God invites us: ‘Turn to me and be saved, for I am God. There is no other.’ (Is 45:22)
Many of us are finding we have a deeper trust and faith in God. . . This Eucharistic Fast we are experiencing is hard on all of us and we can’t wait to get back to Mass and walk up here to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Soon, we hope, very soon. And, we have seen this blessing emerge during the pandemic . . . . more solidarity between people, many countries, world religions, respecting our common humanity and prioritizing the common good. Just last Wednesday, St. Paul filled up the Catholic Charities truck with 4 ¼ tons of donated food for the food pantry. We really do care for one another!
There is a before and an after with this pandemic; we miss the before, the old normal, but there will be an after the pandemic . . . . and maybe some good things and blessings can come from this if we open our eyes and hearts to discover a new normal, a better normal As we celebrate the Easter Resurrection, we should remember that there was, at one time, a “before Easter and an after Easter.” Before the resurrection of Christ and after the resurrection of Christ. Before the Resurrection there was not so much an official teaching on an afterlife. There were some who had an idea, an intuition, a hope that there might be something more to this life than just this life. They thought there was more out there somewhere after we finish up here on earth. But they were not sure.
Then along came Jesus who spoke about there being something more, an eternal life, a full life, a life of pure love, a life in union with God . . . . and he spoke about this openly and said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live (Jn. 11:25 ).
Easter morning, the women go to the tomb and they find it empty. An angel says, “He is not here, he has been raised, exactly as he promised” (Mt. 28:6). And then Jesus, in his glorified, resurrected body, begins to appear to his disciples to share with them the joy of the Easter Resurrection. And the fear they were experiencing after his ugly death on the cross disappears. They are now filled with the greatest joy possible, with the strongest faith in the power of God, with the deepest love for God and for all people . . . so much joy, faith, and love that the disciples then go to the ends of the world to tell the Good News that Jesus has indeed risen from the dead and that there is an Easter Resurrection, that there is more out there, and we can rise up with him by putting our faith in him. So there is a before Easter and an after Easter . . . and the difference is everything! Before: No hope. No faith. No future. Nothing. After: joy, life, faith, union with God and with each other. We choose the Easter Resurrection!
Now here is the challenge for all of us this Easter 2020. We don’t yet know what the “after the pandemic” is going to be like for the world. We do know things will never be the same and that there is going to be something new and different. So here is where we can help . .. since we are an Easter people, filled with joy, life, faith, a desire for union with God and with all of humanity . . . .this can be our contribution: let’s bring our “after the Easter Resurrection spirit” to the “after the pandemic” and help construct and promote a beautiful new normal.
We can keep the positive that we have seen emerge from this crisis: family unity, a deeper longing for union with God, a desire for solidarity with all people. Let’s encourage our young people to choose careers that serve others . . . to become teachers or nurses instead of Wall Street brokers. Let’s take better care of our earth and continue to reduce the amount of pollution we are spewing into the air and water. And, here’s a big one, let’s keep a special watch on those who have been impacted by the economics of the pandemic, those who have lost their jobs, those who are in need of food, and those who lack access to health care.
Unfortunately, these problems will not disappear on May 2 nd or anytime soon. Be ready St. Paul Parish: We will need to fill up the Catholic Charities food truck with donations once a month for the next year or so. We must be prepared for the long haul . . Tonight we remember who we are . . . We are Catholic-Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead Easter morning, exactly as he promised. Let’s bring our faith in the Easter Resurrection to the world, to the “after the pandemic,” and help build a new normal that announces to the world that Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him (Rm. 6-9). It’s because of the Easter Resurrection we have joy, we have life, we have faith, we have a strong union with God and with each other, and we have a great future together. May we do our best to share this Easter Joy with everyone in the weeks and months ahead.