Easter Sunday - Homily 1

Homily 1 - 2012

I love the ending to tonight's Gospel of Mark.

In the way Mark tells the story, I suspect that he is more interested in challenging us to reflect than in simply telling it as it was.

When we read the story symbolically, we can find that it engages very much with our personal experience. There is the young man in a white robe, seated at the right hand side.

What might Mark have intended by that young man? Perhaps, we was the symbol of any later Christian disciple. Whatever about that, his role was to give insight into mystery that we could otherwise never know: to give the women insight into the way things are: Jesus was crucified. Now he is risen.

Whereas crucifixion is a matter of history, resurrection is a matter of faith.

As a little boy, it was others, Christian disciples, who told me the story of Jesus, and particularly that Jesus was alive: my mum and dad, and the whole extended family of grandparents, aunts and uncles. As I grew older, their assurances were confirmed by the delightful man who was my parish priest, and by the nuns who gently taught me in primary school. I took their word for it; and I believed easily. Perhaps, because they also loved me, I wanted to believe them.

Things have changed over the years. I no longer believe simply on the word of others. As the young man in white assured the women: the disciples would see Jesus in Galilee. I can relate to that. I have seen him myself – though "seen" may not be quite the word. The knowledge is less defined than that – more like "experienced" or "encountered", but real. A relationship has developed, even an intimate relationship.

I could never prove it to an unbeliever; but I have noticed myself change, and change because of that relationship. The process has been unspectacular, happening just in the everyday unfolding of life: through persons I have met, books I have read, things that have happened, and periods of silence and reflection.

The disciples would meet Jesus back in Galilee: back home, where they grew up, their familiar, unremarkable world. I have met him in this rural world of Western Victoria, and, more recently, in Portland.

In the past, there were times when I was afraid of the alive Jesus – times when I felt ashamed, remorseful, scared – times when I felt that he was probably offended by me and likely to reject and even to punish me. Over the years, as I have grown to know him better, I see that my adolescent fears of Jesus and of his Father, are not appropriate. Jesus is not all that interested in our past, but very interested in our present and our future.

According to Mark's Gospel, Jesus wanted to meet again - particularly - the disciples and Peter. Not a word, not a care [apparently], about their former cowardice, their loss of hope and of faith, or their abject abandonment of him in his moment of need. Jesus simply wanted to reconnect with the disciples in friendship, in the present, and to be with them as they reshaped their future.

It was not just the disciples who failed, of course. Humanity's endemic hostility killed Jesus. And we are all saturated with that hostility.

Yet, as with the disciples, so with us. Jesus does not condemn us; he wants to set us free. That is why he wants to meet us in our Galilees. Indeed, he has already met us there - which is the reason why each of us is present here tonight. We may not be able to define accurately what resurrection means – but we have all, in our different ways, experienced the touch of the risen Jesus.