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Bishop Silva's Easter Homily

April 16, 2017

[Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu / St. John the Apostle & Evangelist Parish, Mililani]

Cute little yellow chicks. Pastel colors and butterflies. Easter eggs, Easter parades, Easter bonnets, Easter baskets, and Easter bunnies. That’s what Easter is all about! Or so one would think from visiting the Easter card rack at the local drug store! Few and far between is the card that even alludes to the fact that a human being rose from the dead – much less a human being who is also God! We can be content to happily trivialize the most amazing event in the history of the world. We can find satisfaction in alluding to this event by recalling the butterfly emerging from the cocoon or the chick breaking through the egg – both, for sure, signs of new life. But to go to the full truth of this matter, the profound meaning of this event, seems to frighten us, to scare us, to make us want to back away. It is as if someone tells you, in all sincerity, that you are the most wonderful person in the world; but you are not ready to hear it, so you trivialize it with a joke, turn away with an uncomfortable smile, or simply pretend you did not hear it at all.

Why is it so difficult for us to believe what, admittedly, seems unbelievable? Could there really be a Power stronger than death, our most feared enemy? Could a created body, subject to dissolution and decay, really turn around from death and literally leave it behind? Could the God who created the heavens and the earth in all their goodness and unfathomable splendor really want to become one of us little human beings? Could the Holy One who is enthroned eternally in the heavens really care so much for you and me that he would lay down his life for us? Could the Just One, the Son of God made human, subject himself to the punishment we incurred because we could not resist eating a little piece of fruit he told us would be mortally poisonous? And once he subjected himself to death, could this brother of ours, who joined the human race in trying to eliminate all the causes of death so that life could be prolonged, really rob death of its true power over us? These are such profound expressions of love that they embarrass us; make us ashamed of our measly, sinful selves; and make us want to trivialize them.

Or do we make so little of his great love because we perceive it as competition, which must be eliminated? Do we want to be the center of the universe, the arbiters of the truth, the ones who decide for ourselves all the ultimate questions of life? And if we give our allegiance and bow down in faith to one who not only struggles against death, as we do, but left it lamenting in an empty tomb and mourning its own demise, will we lose something vital? And so we trivialize the competition, not realizing that only in submitting ourselves as slaves to each other, as Jesus did to us, we will find true freedom and the greatest nobility.

And do we dare to admit that the Victor over sin and death still belittles himself for us by manifesting his risen Body to us in what seems to be a measly morsel of bread? Or that the Blood he once poured out for us on the cross is offered to us so that his very own life can flow in our veins and so that we can be drunk on the joy of his love? And how amazing is it that he trusts us so much that he sends his own Holy Spirit on us to make us one Body in his love, so that we can go out to the world to literally love the hell out of it as the risen Body of Christ?

Yes, sometimes this is much more than we can take, and so rather than be stopped in our tracks with the amazement, we choose instead the frolicking bunnies and bright colored eggs. Sometimes these trivialities can be the very stone we roll across the tomb, because we are not ready to fully grasp the resurrection.

But the Lord understands. And so he gently and gradually removes the stone from our hearts that keep him locked away in the land of long ago and far away and “once upon a time.” He sets us on fire with a little flame and joins it with the millions of flames of our brothers and sisters to make a blaze of light for the world. He sprinkles us with water so that it can erode that stone clean away. He anoints us with oil so that we who know we are but dust and ashes can glisten with the beauty of life. He speaks his Word to us to gradually pry open what is shut away in darkness and in gloom. He feeds us with food and drink that seem so simple, but that angels long to taste. And he puts a song on our lips, so that ever so gradually it can penetrate our hearts, and so that we can believe the awesome, profound, incredible, and everlasting love he has for us; so that we can also rise from the dead and never tire of singing for all eternity “Alleluia!”