Mg Paskah III : Kis 3: 13-15.17-19; 1Yoh 2:1-5a; Luk 24:35-48
“Kamu adalah saksi dari semuanya ini”
3rd Sunday of Easter / B / 2009 - Fr Sarwiseso Robertus CICM, Sengkang Singapore
2. It is also most appropriate that I address you in this way. Sure, I can address you as Christians, and it is also absolutely correct to address you as children of God.
3. But this is a special time of the year for the universal Church. It is the summit of the liturgical calendar, a very special season that is the fulfillment of the salvation story. And so, let us all rejoice at the hope that Easter gives!
4. Now if I end my sermon at this point, I would still have fulfilled my duty as preacher on the third Sunday of Easter. Why not, because I have just made the obvious statement. I made you all aware that we are a resurrected people. Amen. And we will all go home happy. Another mass completed. Another Sunday obligation fulfilled.
5. But… my sisters and brothers, this will be so superficial. It will just remain a cliché which you hear at every Easter season. And it will not do justice to the greatest event in the history of humankind! It must not be another passing Easter, passing away without any real impact on our lives.
6. Easter must make a difference in our lives. And if it has not made a difference for the past 3 years or 30 years, let this Easter be different. Why? Because we might never get a chance to experience another Easter. Life is so fragile, life is unpredictable.
7. Let us begin by reflecting on the theme of all three readings today. Each reading celebrates the Lord’s resurrection. But all three readings also talk about repentance from sin. So, what is the connection between the Lord’s resurrection and our sinfulness?
8. To find out, let us first talk about the resurrection. He overcame death and continues to live forever. This is the core of our faith. All the other Christian values and principles are built around this fundamental truth.
9. What defines us as a Christian is the resurrection of Jesus. Just as what defines Mariah Carey is her singing voice and what defines Ronaldinho is his goals. Without her angelic voice, Mariah Carey will never be who she is to the world. Similarly, if Ronaldinho cannot score goals, he is not Ronaldinho we know so well.
10. So we are not truly Christian if we do not experience the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. What do I mean by this? The Resurrection Experience for us is a state of the mind and spirit. It is a conscious decision to live a way of life as directed by the Lord.
11. Let me explain a little deeper. The Resurrection Experience is a state of freedom, peace and joy. And whether one is in sickness or in economic downturn or in a broken relationship, the Resurrection Experience has the power to keep up the freedom, peace and joy.
12. Don’t you wish to have this power? (pause)
13. My sisters and brothers, as baptized Christians, YOU ALREADY HAVE THIS POWER!!! By virtue of our baptism, our old self has died with Christ and we have risen with Him to New life. This new life comes with the power of His resurrection. But many of us can’t seem to connect with this power.
14. Do you know why? It is simply because we have not died to self! If there is no death, there is no resurrection. Isn’t that so? If there is no death, there is no need to be resurrected.
15. So, to have the resurrection experience, we must die to self. We must be more conscious and willing to die to our pride, die to our selfishness, die to our attachments and all that distract us from God.
16. All this sounds very good in theory. But how do we make it real? How can we make it a part of our life? I’ll give you a few examples how it can be translated into action. And you can apply it straight away in your everyday life.
17. If your wife says something that hurts you, instead of reacting with equally hurting words… make a decision to die to your pride… and ask the Lord to heal you and your wife and for the grace to heal each other.
18. After some awkward silence and cooling off, both will realize the grace of God working in you… and the apologies will come out. And because you chose to die to self and did not react in the way of the flesh, your relationship will rise one level up. Love further deepens between husband and wife. This is the resurrection experience for your relationship.
19. Another example. If the hawker serving you your chicken rice is rude, your natural reaction is to be equally rude. But if you quickly turn to the Lord and ask Him to help you to die to your pride, there will be a cooling off period. And then when you are ready, pray for him to be more courteous. You will feel a sense of peace and freedom.
20. If you had done the opposite and reacted rudely or harbored the anger, the opposite effect will happen. You will not feel the freedom. You will feel the burden of his inconsiderate words. You become a prisoner of anger. (pause) And of course, your chicken rice will not taste very nice.
21. But I am being serious here. What I’m trying to say is that when we allow an outside action or word to affect us, other areas of our life are also affected. Your loved ones can be affected. Your whole day can be spoilt. And all this is always due to your pride. The devil knows how to take advantage of this human weakness. That’s why pride is the number one sin.
22. But if we choose to die to pride, we are not giving the devil any chance to manipulate us. Instead, we are stretching out our hand to the Lord. And He will ever be so willing to take it and help us through the moment. And with the resurrection experience, we will become stronger and more prepared to face the next hurdle.
23. Another example. If a driver cuts into your lane, the natural thing for you to do is to engage him with anger. But if you are conscious of your baptism, choose instead to ask the Lord to help you die to self. Again, a cooling off period will follow, and by His grace, you will soon feel the weight of your anger lifted away. That is your resurrection experience.
24. And because you overcame the situation, you become more calm and patient. And this benefits other areas of your life, too.
25. One final example. If you have been let down and deeply hurt by a good friend, you can choose to remain angry and unforgiving. Or you can ask the Lord to help you die to self. Die to your pride. It is usually pride that prevents us from forgiving someone, especially a loved one. Usually the more the love, the deeper the hurt. But remember, dying to pride is only the first part. Always follow up with a healing prayer. And the Risen Lord will heal you. After some time, you will be liberated and experience a sense of peace. That is your resurrection experience.
26. The more times you have the resurrection experience, the more you are a true Christian. And the more you live out this Christian experience, you will realize that other areas of your life will be blessed… with peace, joy and love and various other gifts of the Holy Spirit.
28. Now remember what I said about the two common features in all three readings today? The resurrection of Jesus and our repentance from sin?
29. Here is the connection. Resurrection equals life, sin equals death. By His resurrection, Jesus has conquered death. In other words, Jesus has conquered sin. Hence, there is no sin too big for Jesus to help you overcome. And there is no sin too big for Jesus to forgive.
30. If you are in sin, whether big or habitual sin, there is hope. Jesus can help you overcome it. It takes only two steps. First, be sorry and confess your sin. Secondly, ask for the grace to stay away from temptation and to overcome the sin.
31. And from that point, you will be a free person. Sure, like all human beings, we may fall again. But have the courage to start all over again. With the grace of God, you shall overcome.
32. And for those who think that Jesus will never hear their prayer because they are in deep or frequent sin, I want to share with you this analogy. Imagine that you are a parent of two sons who are studying overseas. The elder son is always close to you. But the younger one is a bit naughty and decides to stray away from the family values and rejects your love.
33. While the elder son keeps in touch with you by writing emails regularly, the second son just cuts all links with you. But as a parent, you still love the second son as much as the first.
34. Then after five years, one day, you see two emails flashing on the computer screen. One is from the elder son who writes to you regularly and the other is from the long-lost second son. Tell me in all honesty, which email will you choose to open first?
35. Yes, that is exactly what God will do, too, with all sinners. That is exactly the story of the Prodigal Son, as told by Jesus Himself, to explain the immense love of the Father. Just as He hurried to welcome back the prodigal son, He will open your email first.
36. That is the meaning of Easter. The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope. Hope to rise above our weak and selfish selves. Hope to be healed. Hope to heal one another.
37. Hope always comes with Promise. And so, my sisters and brothers, no matter what situation we are in, Easter gives us the hope and promise of better things to come.