Homily — 3rd Sunday Easter B 4/26/09

Homily — 3rd Sunday Easter B                4/26/09

One Friday afternoon 2000 years ago, in a far flung part of the Roman empire, the lifeless bodies of 3 condemned criminals hung upon 3 Crosses, set up on a hill, just outside the city of Jerusalem.

Before taking the bodies down, the Roman Soldiers in charge of carrying out the execution checked to make sure all three men were dead.

This was a common enough procedure; and if the severe penalties for botching an execution and the ruthlessness of Pilate when one got him upset weren’t incentive enough for the soldiers, on this particular day there was all these religious officials pestering them.  “Make sure the man on the middle Cross is dead!  Before you take him down, we want to double check!”

But there was no doubts to be had.  You could maybe survive a Roman Scourging if you were lucky, but no one lives through a Roman Crucifixion.

Yes, they were all three of them dead all right – the two low-life thieves who no one even showed up to mourn for.  The soldiers found it hard to believe how peaceful one of those dead thieves looked, given these circumstances.

And the third criminal crucified that day, the one in the middle, was the first of to die of the bunch.  Quite the celebrity, he had been.

The big guy himself, Pontius Pilate, personally wrote out a sign and had it put on the Cross over his head written in three different languages, giving the man’s name and who he claimed to be.  The soldiers didn’t see that too often.

The governor even refused to take it down when people complained about it – one of the few times in his life the man ever show some real backbone.    He wanted that sign to remain there until the body had been taken off, so that all those religious fanatics who either worshiped the man or hated him would know for certain that the cold and dead corpse hanging on that Cross before there eyes was Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

After taking Jesus off from the Cross, Jesus’ followers came forward to take His body and bury It.

The soldiers were surprised at how few came our for the burial:  His Mother, His Apostles minus Judas, and only several dozen others, mostly women.

The large crowds that flocked around him just a week ago were now running after a man named Barábbas, who promised a more earthly and easy salvation.

But three days later, it was not to the large crowds who went for Barábbas, but rather to that faithful remnant of disciples, that Jesus came to in the Upper Room.  He stood in their midst and said to them: “Peace be with you. . . .Why are you troubled?  Why do questions arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and feet . . . . touch me with your own hands and see with your own eyes, I have really risen from the Dead!”

I didn’t re-incarnate in another body, my soul wasn’t annihilated, or made one with the universe.  Nor did I become an Angel or a Ghost.  I have Risen from the Dead, body and soul, never to die again!  And I will raise up all who believe in me in the same way

Let us, my brothers and sisters, as Peter in the first Reading exhorts us, Repent, therefore of all our doubts and anxieties and sins, and be converted to believing the witness of the Apostles, that our sins may be wiped away, and we may live in Hope for the Resurrection.

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