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Monsignor Yennock's Homily April 15, 2018 - Third Sunday of Easter

Apr 16, 2018

THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER

APRIL 15, 2018

THE CHURCH GIVES US SIX WEEKS OF EASTER TO REFLECT ON THE MOST MOMENTOUS EVENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST FROM THE DEAD.

TWO YEARS AGO A MOVIE WAS MADE CALLED RISEN. THE MOVIE GROSSED OVER 46 MILLION DOLLARS. RISEN TELLS THE FAMILIAR, TIMELESS STORY OF JESUS' DEATH AND RESURRECTION FROM A FRESH VANTAGE POINT.

CLAVIUS A ROMAN TRIBUNE IS COMMISSIONED BY PILATE TO FIND THE BODY OF JESUS AND DESTROY IT. BUT AS CLAVIUS EXAMINES THE EVIDENCE, PIECE BY PIECE, BIT BY BIT, THIS ROMAN TRIBUNE IS PERSUADED TO PLACE HIS FAITH IN A MESSIAH WHO IS CLEARLY NO LONGER IN THE GRAVE.

AFTER HIS CONVERSION CLAVIUS BEGINS TO EXPERIENCE THE KIND OF VIBRANT, ABUNDANT LIFE HE'S ALWAYS LONGED FOR.

THE MOVIE, RISEN IS HISTORICAL FICTION. THE GOSPELS ARE NOT FICTION. MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE AND JOHN GIVE US, AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE RESURRECTION AS A REAL HISTORICAL EVENT.

THEY BEGIN BY POINTING OUT THAT AFTER THE DEATH OF JESUS, HIS DISCIPLES WERE COMPLETELY DISTRAUGHT.

THEY WERE A DEFEATED GROUP OF PEOPLE. THEY WERE A DISCOURAGED GROUP OF PEOPLE. THEY WERE A FRIGHTENED GROUP OF PEOPLE.

THEN ON EASTER SUNDAY SOMETHING HAPPENED TO THESE DISTRAUGHT, DISCOURAGED, FRIGHTENED PEOPLE. SOMETHING TRANSFORMED THEM IN THE MOST REMARKABLE WAY IMAGINABLE. SOMETHING CHANGED THEM IN AN AMAZING WAY.

SUDDENLY THEY LITERALLY EXPLODED WITH JOY AND HAPPINESS. THEY COULDN’T CONTAIN THEMSELVES. THEY HURRIED OFF TO TELL EVERYONE THEY MET THAT JESUS WAS RISEN—THAT JESUS WAS ALIVE.

SO CONVINCED WERE THE DISCIPLES ABOUT THE RESURRECTION THAT THEY SUFFERED THE MOST TERRIBLE KINDS OF PERSECUTION, PRISON, TORTURE, INSULT AND DEATH, RATHER THAN DENY THEIR RISEN LORD. MEN DO NOT DIE FOR A LIE.

THE LIVES AND PREACHING OF THIS HANDFUL OF PEOPLE CHANGED THE COURSE OF HUMAN HISTORY.

1000 PEOPLE EXPERIENCED JESUS CHRIST AFTER HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD.  

THEIR WITNESS TO THE RISEN JESUS NEVER WAVERED. THEIR WITNESS NEVER WEAKENED IN THE LEAST. ON THE CONTRARY, IT GREW STRONG AND MORE POWERFUL. THEY EVEN EXPERIENCED AN AMAZING NEW POWER THAT ALLOWED THEM TO WORK MIRACLES.

THERE ARE MANY PROOFS FOR THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS FROM THE TOMB, BUT NONE ARE AS POWERFUL AS THE WITNESS OF THE EARLY CHRISTIANS TO THE RISEN JESUS AMONG THEM.

WITNESSING TO JESUS IS MORE THAN TESTIFYING THAT JESUS IS RISEN.  WITNESSING TO JESUS IS MORE THAN TELLING PEOPLE THAT A MAN CAME OUT OF HIS TOMB 2000 YEARS AGO.

WITNESSING TO JESUS IS TESTIFYING, BY OUR OWN LIVES, THAT THE POWER OF THE RISEN JESUS HAS TOUCHED US AND TRANSFORMED US IN THE MOST REMARKABLE WAY IMAGINABLE. WITNESSING TO JESUS IS LETTING JESUS SPEAK THROUGH US TO OTHER PEOPLE.

THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LIFE OF BRIAN STERNBERG A SOPHOMORE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON. HE WAS NOT ONLY THE WORLD’S BEST POLE VAULTER BUT ALSO AMERICA’S TRAMPOLINE CHAMPION.

BRIAN WAS WORKING OUT ALONE IN THE GYM ONE NIGHT. HE DID A TRIPLE SOMERSAULT AND CAME DOWN ON THE TRAMPOLINE OFF CENTER. HIS NECK HIT THE EDGE OF THE TRAMPOLINE, SNAPPING IT AND LEAVING HIM TOTALLY PARALYZED. HE COULD MOVE ONLY HIS EYES AND HIS MOUTH. THE TRAGIC FALL LEFT HIME A HELPLESS, HOPELESS CRIPPLE.

BEFORE HIS TRAGIC ACCIDENT BRIAN WAS A SELF-CENTERED ATHLETE. IMMEDIATELY AFTER HIS ACCIDENT HE WAS A BITTER PERSON.

BUT THEN SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL HAPPENED. SOMEONE INTRODUCED BRIAN TO JESUS CHRIST. BEGINNING WITH THAT INTRODUCTION, THE POWER OF THE RISEN JESUS TOUCHED BRIAN AND BEGAN TO TRANSFORM HIM. BRIAN BECAME AN INSPIRING LIVING WITNESS TO THE RESURRECTION.

FIVE YEARS AFTER HIS CONVERSION BRIAN WAS AT A CONVENTION OF COACHES AND ATHLETES AT ESTES PARK, COLORADO. THE AUDITORIUM WAS TOTALLY DARK. SUDDENLY A MOVIE PROJECTOR LIT UP THE SCREEN. THERE WAS BRIAN STERNBERG BEFORE HIS ACCIDENT, RACING DOWN THE RUNWAY AND EXECUTING THAT RECORD BREAKING POLE VAULT.

EVERY COACH AND ATHLETE WAS MOVED TO TEARS.

THEN THE AUDITORIUM WENT TOTALLY DARK AGAIN, EXCEPT FOR A SINGLE SPOTLIGHT FALLING ON A SINGLE CHAIR ON THE EMPTY STAGE.

SUDDENLY OUT OF THE SHADOWS, ON THE STAGE, CAME A HUGE FOOTBALL PLAYER NAMED WES WILMER. IN HIS ARMS WAS WHAT LOOKED LIKE A BIG RAG DOLL? ITS LONG ARMS AND LEGS HUNG LIMP AT ITS SIDES. THE RAG DOLL WAS SIX-FOOT, THREE INCH BRIAN STERNBERG, WHO NOW WEIGHED 87 POUNDS.

WILMER PLACED HIM IN A CHAIR AND PROPPED HIM UP WITH PILLOWS TO KEEP HIM FROM FALLING OVER. THEN IN A RASPY VOICE BRIAN STERNBERG BEGAN TO TALK. HE SAID:

“MY FRIENDS….OH I PRAY TO GOD THAT WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO ONE OF YOU. I PRAY THAT YOU WILL NEVER KNOW THE HUMILIATION, THE SHAME OF NOT BEING ABLE TO PERFORM ONE HUMAN ACT.

“OH, I PRAY TO GOD YOU WILL NEVER KNOW THE PAIN THAT I LIVE WITH DAILY. IT IS MY HOPE AND MY PRAYER THAT WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME WOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO ONE OF YOU. UNLESS, MY FRIENDS, THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES FOR YOU TO PUT GOD IN THE CENTER OF YOUR LIFE.”

THE IMPACT OF BRIAN’S WORDS WAS ELECTRIFYING. NO ONE COULD EVER FORGET THEM.

THE WITNESS OF BRIAN STERNBERG REMINDS US OF THE WITNESS OF PETER IN THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.

PETER WENT OUT INTO THE STREETS AND SHOUTED TO THE CROWD: “YOU DENIED THE HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS ONE AND ASKED THAT A MURDERER BE RELEASED TO YOU. YOU PUT TO DEATH THE AUTHOR OF LIFE BUT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD. WE ARE WITNESSES OF THIS.

BRIAN STERNBERG WAS A WITNESS WHEN HE SAID TO ALL THOSE COACHES AND ATHLETES:

“OH I PRAY TO GOD…THAT WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME WOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO ONE OF YOU. UNLESS, MY FRIENDS, THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES FOR YOU TO PUT GOD IN THE CENTER OF YOUR LIFE”

THE MOST POWERFUL FORCE IN THE WORLD IS TO SEE SOMEONE TOUCHED AND TRANSFORMED BY THE POWER OF THE RISEN CHRIST.

WITNESSING TO JESUS IS PETER AND THE APOSTLES SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER IN THE STREETS OF JERUSALEM.

WITNESSING TO JESUS IS EACH ONE OF US TESTIFYING BY OUR LIVES THAT THE POWER OF THE RISEN JESUS HAS TRANSFORMED US.  

WITNESSING TO JESUS IS BRIAN STERNBERG SHARING THE DEEPEST PART OF HIMSELF AND HIS CONVICTIONS ABOUT LIFE WITH A GROUP OF COACHES AND ATHLETES.

WITNESSING TO JESUS IS DOING WHAT AN 87 POUND RAG DOLL DID ON AN EMPTY STAGE IN ESTES PARK, COLORADO. IT IS LETTING JESUS SPEAK THROUGH US TO OTHER PEOPLE.

A CARMELITE BISHOP, JEAN DUVAL, WROTE ABOUT THE POWER OF A LIVING WITNESS IN A PASTORAL LETTER. HERE IS WHAT HE WROTE:

“NO MATTER HOW BEAUTIFULLY EXPRESSED THEY ARE, ABSTRACT IDEAS RARELY MOVE PEOPLE. BUT LET A PERSON COME FORWARD, A LIVING PERSON, CAPABLE OF SPEAKING TO THE HEART; LET TRUTH FLOW FROM THAT PERSON’S LIFE, AND LET THE PERSON’S POWER BE MATCHED BY AN EQUAL GIFT OF LOVE: THEN PEOPLE WILL LISTEN AND THE DAWN OF BETTER DAYS WILL BRIGHTEN OUR SKIES.”

EACH TIME WE LOVE AGAIN AFTER HAVING OUR LOVE REJECTED, WE WITNESS TO THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION. EACH TIME WE TRUST AGAIN AFTER HAVING OUR TRUST BETRAYED, WE WITNESS TO THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION. EACH TIME WE FAIL AND TRY AGAIN, WE WITNESS TO THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION. EACH TIME WE HOPE AGAIN AFTER HAVING OUR HOPE SMASHED INTO PIECES, WE WITNESS TO THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION. EACH TIME WE PICK UP THE PIECES, WIPE OUR TEARS, FACE THE SUN, AND START AGAIN, WE WITNESS TO THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION.

THE MESSAGE OF THE RISEN JESUS IS THAT NOTHING CAN DESTROY US ANYMORE - NOT PAIN, NOT SIN, NOT REJECTION, NOT DEATH. THE MESSAGE OF THE RISEN JESUS IS THAT CHRIST HAS CONQUERED ALL, AND THAT WE TOO CAN CONQUER ALL, IF WE PUT OUR FAITH IN HIM.

THE GOOD NEWS THAT WE CELEBRATE EACH DAY IS THAT EVERY GOOD FRIDAY HAS AN EASTER SUNDAY.

CONTINUE EACH DAY TO BE A WITNESS TO THE RISEN JESUS.

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