Sermon summaries and audio files
Audio for the sermon is here.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Tell us, O Mary Magdalene, out of whom were driven seven demons, what did you see? You saw the tomb of Christ, who is living, you saw the glory of his resurrection; you saw bright angels attesting; you saw the shroud and napkin resting there. You heard them say that Christ, your hope, is arisen, that he will go before you into Galilee.
And then you saw Christ himself! You supposed he was the gardener, which was a logical supposition, for it was in a garden that you saw him, and you did not yet know that he had risen. So, therefore, the gardener may well know where his body was; he may even be the one who has taken it, now that the stone had been removed. A logical supposition, for when you first heard the angelic tidings, you could not yet believe it could be. For you went out quickly, and fled from the sepulcher; you trembled and were amazed. You were afraid, and you said nothing to anyone.
But then, after that, you returned, you came back to the place, you lingered, you wished, you hoped; yes, your lingering in the garden tells us that it may have been then that you began daring to hope, to wonder, to believe anew. But still you could not let yourself, and so when he whom you thought to be the gardener asked why you were weeping, you replied, Sir, if you have borne him hence, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.
And then he spoke your name: Mary. And at once you knew, and believed, and your heart thrilled, and exulted: The voice of my beloved! My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up! Mary! And you fell to the ground, and held his feet, until he said to you, Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father.
So you learned, as we must learn, that it is now, today, after the forty days in which he appeared to his disciples, after his ascension, after Pentecost, after years of annual celebrations of Easter, this year, today, at our celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord, we may at last touch him, in the Blessed Sacrament. For he said to you, not yet; not until I have ascended. So now that he has ascended, your touching and ours is wondrously permitted.
Tell us, O John, who had once leaned upon Jesus’ breast, you, to whom at the cross he had given his mother, you, who knew yourself to be one whom Jesus loved, what did you see? You also saw the tomb where Christ had lain. You outran Peter to the sepulcher, and so arrived first but waited in deference to your elder, who was first among the Apostles, so Peter saw first: the linen clothes lying, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. You saw that everything was in order. Perhaps it was then that you, like Mary Magdalene, dared to begin hoping, for everything was in order. For when you went in, and you saw that, you began to believe. You finally let yourself begin to believe what he had been saying to you all along, that he must rise from the dead.
But still you must have doubted, for him you did not see, and then, at evening, you were with all the twelve in the upper room, and you shut the doors for fear of the Jews. See, you were still afraid; your heart, wanting to believe, was still held back from believing, still could not quite bring itself to that point; but then Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he showed you his hands and his side.
So you inspected, you looked, you handled, you believed; at last, you believed, and then you were glad, when you saw the Lord. And then said Jesus to you again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And so you, John, became Apostle and Evangelist, and wrote these things, these very words, that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing we might have life through his name. For we were not there, but you were there; we did not see, but you saw; our hearts were not first held back and then freed, but yours was; and because you were there, and saw, and believed, and have testified, we therefore have your testimony, that on this glad Easter Day our hearts may leap with joy, and we may share in your gladness.
Tell us, O disciples who walked in gloom and sorrow on the Emmaus road, whose hope had died, who said to the Stranger who began to walk with you, We were hoping that it had been Jesus who died which should have redeemed Israel. You said you were hoping; you were no longer hoping. Your hope had died. But then he talked with you by the way, and what happened? Your heart began to burn within you, while he opened to you the scriptures. Your heart burned, as you began to suspect, like the others—could it be? Could it possibly be?—that he who walked with you on the way was himself the Way on which you walked.
And so as you drew nigh unto the village, whither you went: and he made as though he would have gone further, you constrained him, hearts burning, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with you. And your heart burned all the more, for as he opened the Scriptures to you, he was also leading you back to himself, who is your Hope, your Joy, your Life, your Rock, your Strength, your Beloved, risen from dead. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with you, he took bread, and blessed it, and broke, and gave to you. And it was then that your eyes were opened, and you knew him; and he vanished out of your sight. We were not there, but you were there; and we did not join that blessed Emmaus meal with you that day, but—alleluia!—we join you this day, this happy Easter Day, we join you today, for we know him in the Supper, just as you did.
Tell us, O all ye witnesses of the resurrection, how you had lost all hope, but then he came to you and revived you, and you began to believe the unbelievable; you started to hope the unimaginable; you dared to trust the impossible, that Christ who was dead had—could it be?—actually risen from the dead, as he had said he would. For our hearts burn within us this day. And we begin, and dare, and, hoping against hope, are learning to believe what the Scripture saith, that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Tell us today, so that we, too, may know that the burning of our hearts—the confidence, the hope and rediscovery that the Lord is risen indeed—is none other but the flame of the Holy Ghost kindled in us by the glad tidings that you bring of the resurrection of our Lord; that we may join the chorus that with exuberant hearts has through the ages cried out to one another ever since the very days you yourselves have said it: Alleluia! Christ is risen!