EASTER SUNDAY HOMILY April 17, 2022, St. Leonard, 10:30 & online I. Introduction A. Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin was as powerful a man as there was on earth in his day. A Russian Communist leader, he took part in the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, was editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravda, and was a full member of the Politburo. In 1930 he went from Moscow to Kiev to address a huge assembly on the subject of atheism. Addressing the crowd, he aimed his heavy artillery at Christianity, hurling insult, argument, and proofs against it. After an hour, he was finished. He looked out at what seemed to be the smoldering ashes of faith. "Are there any questions?" he demanded. Deafening silence filled the auditorium but then one man approached the platform and mounted the lectern standing near the communist leader. He surveyed the crowd first to the left then to the right. Finally he shouted the ancient greeting well known in the Russian Orthodox Church: "CHRIST IS RISEN!" The crowd arose as one person and the response came crashing like the sound of thunder: "HE IS RISEN INDEED!" (Kayala blog, Easter 2013) B. That response was not an argument intended to refute Bukharin’s attack. It was a strong profession of faith. And faith is what Easter invites us all to embrace. II. Is It Real? A. Fr. John Kavanaugh says, “The postmodern world has problems with resurrection. It has problems with anything transcendent. This life is all there is. You only go around once. Grab all the gusto. It doesn’t get any better than this.” (liturgy.slu.edu, Easter, 2022) B. Many people dismiss the Resurrection as a fairy tale or a lie made up by early Christians. They just won’t believe in something that is truly transcendent, that lies beyond what we can explain or prove with science. C. Albert L. Roper was a prominent Virginia attorney, a graduate of the University of Virginia and its law school, who eventually became mayor of the city of Norfolk. He once began a thorough legal investigation into the evidence for the Resurrection of Christ, asking himself the question: “Can any intelligent person accept the Resurrection story?” After examining the evidence at length, he came away asking a different question: “Can any intelligent person deny the weight of this evidence?” . . . The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is well-documented, and many critics have been silenced (and even converted) when they’ve carefully investigated the evidence [Albert L. Roper, Did Jesus Rise From the Dead (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965), foreword.] (Kayala blog, Easter, 2019) D. But what is that evidence? Sr. Mary McGlone notes, “Today’s gospel is replete with references to not knowing and not understanding. Arriving at the tomb and seeing the stone moved away, Mary did not know where Jesus was; she did not know he was risen. In an aside with which today’s gospel concludes, the Johannine evangelist tells us that the disciples ‘did not yet understand the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.’ Nevertheless, we are told that the disciple with Peter, whom most scholars believe to be John, the beloved disciple, ‘saw and believed.’ Beyond knowledge and understanding, the insight which is faith pierces the mystery of the resurrection.” (NCR Sunday Resources, April 17, 2022). III. Faith, Not Proof A. Even the disciples had difficulty believing what had happened, so it shouldn’t surprise us that people today have doubts about the Resurrection. But perhaps it is really our closemindedness that keeps us from embracing what goes beyond our full understanding. People in other ages and in other cultures are much more open to the realm of the spiritual than our culture is, so they might more easily take the leap that we call faith. B. Our gospel this morning does not recount any appearance of the Risen One. It simply leaves us with the fact of an empty tomb and a picture of confused disciples. An empty tomb doesn’t really prove anything. It is a symbol, it suggests a reality we cannot see. So to believe in the resurrection is an act of faith. The beloved disciple sees the empty tomb and believes! C. When Mr. Roper asks, “Can any intelligent person deny the weight of this evidence?” he is not talking about the empty tomb. The evidence of the truth of the resurrection lies mostly with the effect it had on the disciples and the effects it has had on believers ever since. John’s gospel shows the disciples as frightened and confused. It took them a while to come to believe. But when the

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