Monsignor Yennock's Easter 2016 Homily

Mar 28, 2016

EASTER 2016

A FEW YEARS AGO, A WOMAN TOLD ME ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED AT A FAMILY DINNER ON EASTER SUNDAY. SEVERAL YOUNG PEOPLE WERE SITTING AROUND THE TABLE EATING AND TALKING. IN THE COURSE OF THE CONVERSATION A YOUNG COLLEGE PROFESSOR MADE THE STATEMENT THAT THE GOSPELS WERE NOT WRITTEN UNTIL 150 A.D. IF THAT WERE TRUE, IT WOULD MEAN THAT THE GOSPELS WERE WRITTEN OVER 100 YEARS AFTER THE RESURECTION EVENT.

THE DOUBT THAT HE PLANTED IN THAT GROUP OF YOUNG PEOPLE, WAS ABOUT THE CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES WHO WERE REPORTING AN EVENT THAT HAPPENED OVER 100 YEARS AFTER THE DEATH AND RESURECTION OF JESUS.

FIRST OF ALL THE PROFESSOR WHO MADE THAT STATEMENT WAS DEAD WRONG, WHEN HE SAID THAT THE GOSPELS WERE WRITTEN IN 150 A.D. HIS INFORMATION WAS OUTDATED AND COMPLETELY FALSE.

THE MOST RESPECTED SCHOLARS TODAY DATE THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT BETWEEN THE YEARS 50 AND 75 A.D. THAT PLACES THEM WITHIN THE LIFETIME OF EYEWITNESSES, INCLUDING PETER, THOMAS, JOHN, MATTHEW, PAUL AND OTHERS.

PAUL’S LETTERS WERE WRITTEN BETWEEN 50 AND 60 A.D. WITHIN 20 YEARS OF THE EASTER EVENT. PAUL DIED IN 65 A.D. PETER DIED IN 64 A.D. SO THEIR LETTERS WERE WRITTEN IN THE LATE 50’S OR EARLY 60’S. THEY WERE CERTAINLY WRITTEN BEFORE 150 A.D.

EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS SUCH AS POLYCARP A DISCIPLE OF ST. JOHN, PAPIAS A DISCIPLE OF POLYCARP, AND IGNATIUS THE BISHOP OF ANTIOCH LIVED IN THE FIRST CENTURY. ALL OF THEM SWEAR TO THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE WRITINGS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT IN THE FIRST CENTURY.

IF THE PROFESSOR KNEW HIS HISTORY HE WOULD KNOW THAT BY THE YEAR 150 A.D. THE HISTORIAN TERTULLIAN COULD SAY TO THE EMPIRE: WE ARE IN YOUR TOWNS. WE ARE IN YOUR VILLAGES. WE INFEST YOUR ISLANDS. WE ARE IN YOUR SENATE. WE ARE IN THE FORUM. WE ARE IN YOUR MARKET PLACES. WE ARE A MAJORITY IN YOUR CITIES.  WE ARE A FORCE TO CONTEND WITH.

CHRISTIANS RECORDED THE RESURECTION OF JESUS IN THE FIRST CENTURY. THE MOVEMENT WAS WELL ON ITS WAY BY THE YEAR 150 A.D.

PHILOSOPHERS AND INTELLECTUALS OF THE EIGHTEENTH, NINETEENTH AND TWENTIETH CENTURIES HAVE WRITTEN VOLUMES TO UNDERMINE THE FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTIANITY. YOU MAY RECOGNIZE SOME OF THE NAMES OF THESE WRITERS:  JACQUES ROUSEAU, RENE DESCARTES, KARL MARX, VLADIMER LENIN, SIGMUND FREUD, ALFRED KINSEY, MARGARET SANGER, BETTY FREDAN, FRIEDERICH NIETZSCHE, JEAN-PAUL SARTRE, AND OTHERS.

IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY MILITANT ATHEISM IS EVEN MORE AGGRESSIVE.  RICHARD DAWKINS, SAM HARRIS, DANIEL DENNETT, AND CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS HAVE DOMINATED BESTSELLER LISTS WITH BOOKS DENIGRATING RELIGIOUS BELIEF AS DANGEROUS FOOLISHNESS.

MANY OF THESE WRITERS WERE SO PATHETIC IN THEIR IDEAS AND IN THEIR PRIVATE LIVES THAT WE MIGHT IGNORE THEM EXCEPT THAT MANY INNOCENT YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE UNIVERSITIES ARE BEING BRAIN-WASHED BY THESE FAILED IDEAS.   

THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR GOOD, HONEST SCHOLARSHIP.

TWO MEN IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY ENGLAND, LORD LYTTLETON AND GILBEER WEST WERE LAWYERS WHO SET OUT TO UNDERMINE CHRISTIANITY BY DISCREDITING THE RESURECTION OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL. THEY WERE CERTAIN THAT IF THEY COULD DISPROVE BOTH OF THOSE STORIES CHRISTIANITY WOULD COLLAPSE LIKE A HOUSE OF CARDS.

BY THE TIME THAT THEY HAD COLLECTED ALL OF THE SCHOLARLY EVIDENCE THEY WERE CONVINCED OF THE FACT OF THE RESURECTION OF JESUS AND THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL. SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE AND THE GRACE OF GOD, CONVERTED BOTH MEN FROM SKEPTICS TO MEN OF UNWAVERING FAITH IN THE RESURECTION OF JESUS AND THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL.

ON EASTER SUNDAY, ALMOST 2000 YEARS AGO, HISTORY RECORDED A SUDDEN AND MOMENTOUS EVENT. A MAN WHO WAS DEAD WALKED AWAY FROM HIS OWN GRAVE BY HIS OWN POWER. NO ONE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD HAD EVER DONE THAT BEFORE. NO ONE HAS EVER DONE IT SINCE. THE RESURECTION OF JESUS FROM THE DEAD WAS A STUNNING EVENT.

THE DISCIPLES WERE SO EXCITED ABOUT IT THAT THEY CARRIED THE NEWS THROUGHOUT JUDEA, TO ASIA MINOR AND ACROSS THE MEDITERANEAN TO ROME AND GREECE. THE EXPLOSION OF THESE IDEAS IS CALLED THE JESUS REVOLUTION.

THE MOVEMENT STARTED WITH PETER, ANDREW, JAMES, JOHN, THOMAS, PHILLIP, BARTHOLEMEW, SIMON AND JUDE. LATER CAME BARNABAS, PAUL, TIMOTHY AND STEPHEN THE FIRST MARTYR. MEN AND WOMEN FOLLOWED BY THE THOUSANDS.

JESUS HAD NO MILITARY POWER.  IT WAS THE POWER OF HIS IDEAS THAT ATTRACTED THEM. HIS ARMIES TODAY ARE THE BENEDICTINES, THE AUGUSTINIANS, THE FRANCISCANS, THE DOMINICANS, THE JESUITS, THE VINCENTIANS, THE SALESIANS, THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY, THE SISTERS OF ST. JOSEPH, THE FRANCISCAN SISTERS, THE SISTERS OF MERCY, THE DOMINICAN SISTERS, THE SISTERS OF LIFE AND MANY MORE..

HIS WORDS WERE SIMPLE: TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED. SERVE OTHERES IN MY NAME. KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS. LOVE YOUR ENEMIES. TURN THE OTHER CHEEK—UNLIMITED FORGIVENESS AND MERCY.

THIS MESSAGE WAS ALTOGETHER NEW FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE FIRST CENTURY A.D. THE INITIAL IMPACT OF CHRISTIANITY ON THE ANCIENT GRECO- ROMAN WORLD PRODUCED SHOCK WAVES THAT CONTINUED TO REGISTER LONG AFTER THE ROMAN EMPIRE DISAPPEARED.

THE WORLD WOULD RIDICULE THESE IDEAS BUT IN THREE HUNDRED YEARS THE STRATEGY OF LOVE AND SERVICE BROUGHT THE MIGHTY ROMAN EMPIRE TO ITS KNEES. INSTEAD OF SAYING CEASAR IS LORD, THEY SAID JESUS IS LORD.

THE JESUS REVOLUTION WAS NOT LIKE THE FRENCH REVOLUTION OR THE COMMUNIST REVOLUTION OR THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION. 

CONTRAST THE JESUS REVOLUTION WITH THE REVOLUTIONS OF THE LAST CENTURY. TIME MAGAZINE A FEW YEARS AGO RAN A SERIES ON LEADERS AND REVOLUTIONARIES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. THE ARTICLE READS LIKE A VIRTUAL BLOOD BATH-- ATHEISTIC SOCIALISM ENSLAVED OVER 100 MILLION PEOPLE. —STALIN—HITLER—LENIN—MAO TSE TUNG—POL POT—IDI AMIN—THEIR REVOLUTIONS KILLED PEOPLE THEY DID NOT CHANGE THEM.

LOOK AROUND YOU. WHERE ARE THESE REVOLUTIONARIES NOW WITH THEIR FAILED IDEAS? WHERE ARE THEIR MOVEMENTS? MARX IS DEAD, LENIN IS DEAD, HITLER IS DEAD, STALIN IS DEAD, MAO TSE TUNG IS DEAD, POL POT IS DEAD, AND IDI AMIN IS DEAD. ALL IN ONE LIFETIME.

WHERE ARE ALL THE INTELLECTUALS THAT SPAWNED IDEAS THAT HAVE WRECKED THE FAITH OF YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN AND DESTROYED THE MORAL FOUNDATION OF OUR SOCIETY?  WHERE ARE ROUSEAU, DES CARTES, MARX, FREUD, KINSEY, SANGER, FREDAN, NIETZSCHE, SARTRE, AND ALL THEIR ILK? THEY ARE DEAD. JESUS IS ALIVE.

BEHIND THE DEBRIS OF THESE DEFEATED REVOLUTIONARIES AND INTELLECTUALS THERE STANDS THE TOWERING FIGURE OF JESUS CHRIST. HE ALONE IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD. HE ALONE IS STILL ALIVE AND GUIDING HIS MOVEMENT, THE CHURCH.  HIS CHURCH IS 2000 YEARS OLDER THAN ANY GOVERNMENT IN THE WORLD.

MANY YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY ARE UNDER THE ILLUSION THAT CHRISTIANITY IS SOMEHOW OUTDATED AND NEW AGE RELIGION IS THE ANSWER TO THE MEANING OF LIFE.  

AFTER THE FRENCH REVOLUTION IN THE EARLY 1800’S A PHILOSOPHER BY THE NAME OF LEPAUX, WAS SEARCHING FOR SOMETHING NEW AND DIFFERENT. LEPAUX INVENTED A NEW RELIGION. HE CALLED IT PHILANTHROPY. THERE WAS ONLY ONE PROBLEM. HE COULD NOT GET ANY DISCIPLES TO FOLLOW HIM. ONE DAY HE WENT TO THE RENOWNED FRENCH STATESMAN TALLYRAND AND COMPLAINED ABOUT HIS LACK OF SUCCESS IN FOUNDING A NEW RELIGION.

TALLEYRAND SAID TO HIM: LE PAUX I AM NOT THE LEAST SURPRISED AT YOUR FAILURE. IF YOU WISH FOR SUCCESS HERE IS WHAT I ADVISE: GO INTO THE STREETS. WORK MIRACLES; HEAL THE SICK, RESTORE LIFE TO THE DEAD; LET YOURSELF BE CRUCIFIED AND BURIED-- THEN—AND THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT—AFTER YOU HAVE BEEN IN THE TOMB FOR TWO DAYS WALK OUT OF THE TOMB  AND ALLOW YOUR SELF TO BE SEEN BY THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.

DO THIS, MY FRIEND, AND TAKE MY WORD FOR IT--ALL THE WORLD WILL RUN AFTER YOU. THE PHILOSOPHER WALKED AWAY A HUMBLER MAN. HIS ILLUSIONS WERE SHATTERED.

TALLEYRAND WAS DESCRIBING TO LE PAUX THE EASTER REVOLUTION.  JESUS IS ALIVE.