April 21, 2019
Acts of the Apostles 10:3a, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23 (24)
The Gospel of John 20:1-9
Deacon Mike D’Addabbo
St. Louis Catholic Church
HALLELUJAH!!!! REJOICE!!! BE GLAD and GIVE THANKS!!! TODAY JESUS CHRIST HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD!!! In three very long (for Jesus) days He was tortured, He suffered, He was crucified and then He died. He died in order to redeem OUR sins!!! He did not have any sins. He did not have to die for us except His Father instructed it and He followed His father’s command. Now Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of His Father where he will judge the living and the dead. We are reminded of that every Sunday when we pray the Profession of Faith- the Nicene Creed. And make no mistake about who He is going to judge. It will be us. Are we willing to be like Jesus? Can, more importantly will, we follow the instructions that He and His father gave us? If we also want to rise again after death and join Him in heaven the answer is yes. That yes is why we here today and, hopefully, every Sunday and Holy Day.
Do we have any visitors today? We welcome you and are pleased that you have safely journeyed here to be with family and friends. We pray that you will also have safe travels home.
On behalf of Fr. Jolly Sebastian, our Pastor, the clergy and staff of St. Louis Parish and Catholic School we welcome you here to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Easter Mass is the culmination of Holy Week and concludes the most glorious of the Catholic Christian feasts. It is the pinnacle of our faith. It is why we are Catholic. This is our time. We are honored that you have chosen to be with us on such a Blessed occasion.
Do you believe in miracles? Fleetwood Mac once wrote a song titled “You Make Loving Fun”. It begins “Sweet wonderful you… you make me happy with the things you do…Oh, can it be so…This feeling follows me wherever I go…I never did believe in miracles…But I’ve a feeling it’s time to try…I never did believe in the ways of magic…but I’m beginning to wonder why…” I do not know the inspiration behind this song and its title but I do believe that Jesus Christ makes loving Him fun. I believe He is sweet and wonderful. I know He makes me happy with the things He does. He gave us the sacraments, His teachings, faith and Catholic faith traditions that carry on from 2,000 years ago. He gave us some work- a goal- to go out and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He gave us His unconditional support to do that through His church. I believe you are all here today because you do believe in Jesus and the miracle of His resurrection. I do not believe in magic. You can buy a book on how to do a magic trick. Rising from the dead is a miracle. Not magic.
Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia recently said “…Our faith changed the course of history and gave meaning to an entire civilization. And in the Risen Christ, God is now calling us, right now, starting with those of us here, to do the same.” He went on to say “If American Catholics no longer know their faith…privilege of discipleship… call to mission, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.” He said we are not called to be passive witnesses to the times. We are the subject and author of our place in history. We are going to be the determinant of how history views us. The Bishop does not mean just the clergy and religious and a few involved parishioners need to know our mission. He means all of us. Clergy and religious are just regular people who have had a calling to a higher vocation. I am a regular person who, when working, was just a salesman. I have a family. As I went through life I became more involved with people at church eventually taking the path God was calling me on. Not everyone is called down that same path but we are all called to follow God’s call. How do we do that?
We have instituted new programs here to increase our knowledge of our faith and history. And you do not have to be a radical. We are all called in separate ways. All we have to do is have an open heart, be willing to listen, to step out of our comfort zone and do something. We have just concluded our first parish wide ALPHA program. Almost 200 people attended every week for 13 weeks participating 1-1/2 hrs. each week including time for a dinner. ALPHA is a non-Catholic program designed to help you start a conversation with, and grow closer to, God and to increase your Christian knowledge. I was not a big ALPHA fan but I went to see what it was all about. That was this winter or 2-1/2 years AFTER I was ordained. After the first three weeks I was convinced. This program was made for people like you and me. It is life stories and real witness testimony from people who turned their life around. It has brought people closer to God and His teachings. It has increased participation in all aspects of Christian faith. It will make you want to do something for God and others. Jesus told us the greatest commandment of all is to “Love one another as I have loved you.” ALPHA will help you do that and, best of all, it is easy to participate in. You watch a video and then you have a small group discussion. Before you know it you, and the people in your small group, will find yourself relating to the people on the video at the beginning and then you will see yourself transforming into a disciple of Christ. Not a drum beating so called ‘Jesus freak’ shouting from a box on the street corner but a person who is comfortable with their knowledge of their faith and is able to witness to others in the secular world. They are able to talk about and, through their actions, demonstrate their love for Jesus Christ. They could say “As God is my witness” and they are stating a truth. They simply become more involved. There are many different opportunities that will touch something you have a talent for and can use to bring yourself, and others, closer to Christ. At last Thursday’s Mass of the Last Supper Fr. Jolly reminded us that his job is to get us all into heaven and that it is our job to get him and others into heaven. He will keep pushing us to reach that goal. He cannot do it alone. Our fates and our faith are intertwined like an unbreakable cord.
Many of you are here on Easter Sunday today because you believe in Jesus Christ. Today we celebrate the miracle of His resurrection just after His death three days earlier. It occurs during the spring season. The air seems fresher and cleaner, grass is growing, flowers, trees and bushes are blooming. Farmers and others are planting food and vegetables. It is refreshing. People are outside and feel better after cold and dreary winter days. It is a new beginning. Jesus Christ gave us a new beginning. It is our Catholic faith- the first true Christian religion. It was then, and still is now, a breath of fresh air, a new beginning, after His death on the cross. We welcome the new Catholics who joined our faith at the Easter Vigil. They are fresh, radiant and exude joy. We do not celebrate Easter every Sunday. We do enjoy the miracle of the consecration and transubstantiation of bread and wine into the real presence of Jesus Body and Blood at every Mass.
I notice that we have a pretty full Church today. Today’s attendance today is not unusual for this Holy Day or Christmas. It should be this way every Sunday. Unfortunately, it is not. Why do so many choose to celebrate this Holy Day, and Christmas, but not weekly Sunday or Holy Day Mass? The tenets of the Mass are all the same. That is the beauty of it. Our faith traditions are founded by Jesus Christ. We cannot change them. It does not matter where in the world you might be you can go to mass anywhere and it is the same. I know. I have done it many times in many languages. The Priest uses the same words and performs the same actions that Jesus Christ did at the Last Supper. “Take this, all of you and eat of it, for this is My Body which will be given up for you. Take this all of you and drink from it, for this is the chalice of My Blood…which will be poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.” These words are the foundation of our faith. These words are what make us Catholic. The Priesthood was created then. The sacrament of Holy Communion was created then.
We can, should and are supposed to, attend Mass every Sunday if physically able. Jesus asks us to spend with Him only one hour a week at Mass with Him. That is just a small step to becoming closer to Him. You are here today because you believe in our faith, the promises of Jesus and the joy of the Resurrection. I promise you that for a little while on Sundays you will not experience the same crowds that you see today. Not yet. But it will happen. Sunday Mass is simply the first step to a more fulfilling and active Catholic life. Renew your commitment. Take that first step and be the person bringing others to Christ and follow God’s command to keep Holy the Sabbath. ALPHA will help.
Jesus performs miracles throughout His three years of public ministry. He raised people from the dead, cured the blind, the deaf and the dumb. He turned a few loaves and fish into a dinner for 5,000 and had leftovers. It was easy for those who saw those miracles to believe. It is harder for the rest of us. I think we saw a number of miracles on Monday at the fire of The Cathedral of Notre Dame. That church has an average of 30,000+ visitors a day and 13 million a year, yet no one was injured or died. What if it had been on the day before which was Palm Sunday? How many lives might have been lost? And then the Fire dept. chaplain- a man named Fournier- which roughly means “in the oven”- made a chain of people to rescue The Crown of Thorns and other relics. And most telling- the picture taken by a fireman showing the cross shining brightly through the rubble and the smoke. Jesus promised us that the gates of hell would not prevail against Him. Notre Dame showed it didn’t. Satan and the gates of hell tried and lost again.
We do not always know how we will change someone’s life through works of charity but that is not important. What is important is answering God’s call to help. Jesus wants you.
God Loves You. Have a very Blessed Easter