Easter Sunday 2013:
Happy Easter to everyone. Today we celebrate the greatest day in the history of the world. We celebrate that day when Christ rose from the dead. Let that sink in: Christ rose from the dead. We all know it is the center of our Christian faith to believe in Christ, especially in his death and resurrection. But, sometimes something as important and as central as our belief in the resurrection can become something we get used to, something we take for granted, something that no longer excites us. So my exhortation for Easter this year is to get excited. Jesus has risen from the dead. No wonder we sing Alleluia!
Today in our gospel we hear about Peter and the beloved disciple running to the tomb in order to investigate what they heard from Mary. Now, let me make a little confession. I hate running! Now, I know many people who love running, they love jogging, they run marathons, etc. But, not me, I hate running. As soon as I start running my mind starts to second guess this decision: why am I running, I can’t breathe, you know you are never going to make it very far, why not just stop now, eventually you are going to stop anyway… With thoughts like these, it is no surprise then that I never run very far, nor do I keep it up; I have often started a program of jogging or running in the past, but it never lasts. As most of you know, I’m the chaplain at Marian and whenever I talk to the kids on the track or cross country teams I always have a running joke with them: I only run if someone is chasing me with a gun or a knife. Ok, so you get the idea, I don’t like running.
But, I love basketball and I love racquetball. Put me in a little court with white walls and I will run back and forth for hours chasing down a little green or blue ball. Put me on a basketball court and I will sprint around for hours trying to dribble a basketball and put it into a metal hoop. I hate running, but I will run all day if I chase a little ball or dribble a basketball. What is the difference? I can run all day if I have goal, if I have something to chase. I know myself well enough to know that if I run without a goal, and without a sufficient motivation, I will never be able to keep it up, I wear down, I start to have doubts, I end up giving it up. But, put a ball in front of me, give me something to chase, and I will run for hours.
I think this can be a certain analogy of life. St. Paul calls it a race, run so as to win he says. All of us are running. That's just life. But, do we have direction, focus, and motivation? Why are we running? Unless we have something concrete and inspirational in front of us I think the run becomes too grueling. I mean life is hard. We battle trials and temptations. We have doubts and concerns. We face tragedy, turmoil, sickness, death, and sadness. What are the thoughts and feelings going through our minds? If we let the doubts, the fears, the anxieties of life have the upper hand, life becomes unbearable, it becomes a torturous slog that we plow through. But, if we are excited, if we have a goal in front of us, if we have a reason, we will bear the hardships and fight through whatever adversity we might face.
Our gospel today gives us just such a goal. The disciples ran for that empty tomb. They ran to investigate the resurrection. They ran to encounter the risen Jesus. In our own lives, our motivation should be the same. We run to see Jesus.
However, today, Easter Sunday, it is easy to be excited about the resurrection. Today it seems natural for us to run to the empty tomb. But, it is certainly the case that sometimes we lose our motivation. Sometimes we might forget why we are running. Sometimes those doubts, anxieties, and trials of our lives can cause us to forget why we are running. So, we need constantly to renew our interest in the resurrection. We need to renew our interest and excitement for that empty tomb. Here at this mass, and at every mass, every day, and especially every Sunday, we renew our faith in the resurrection. We celebrate anew the saving mysteries of our faith. Here at this Holy Eucharist, we see Jesus, we see our goal, our motivation. No wonder we all go to Mass every Sunday, it helps us to run the race of our human lives. Here at Mass we see why we are running, and through the power of this sacrament we receive the grace, like Peter and the beloved disciple, to run all the way to the resurrection.