Easter Sunday Homily

Easter Sunday Homily March 31, 2013
Father François Beyrouti - fbeyrouti@gmail.com Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church.

Christ is Risen. He is truly Risen.
Almaseeh Qaam. Haqqan Qaam.
Although we frequently repeat this verse, we sometimes overlook that it is both a
statement and a question for us to reflect upon.
Before we say “Christ is Risen. He is truly Risen,” we have to ask ourselves: “Is Christ Risen? Is He truly Risen?” And if yes, then in what way?
On a Sunday morning about two thousand years ago a few women went to a tomb to anoint the body of a dead man. The disciples of that dead man had all been hiding behind closed doors because they were afraid that if the authorities found out they were the followers of this man who was condemned to die and was crucified, they too would be caught and would face the same end.
When the disciples first heard from the women that “Christ is Risen” they were not able to say “He is truly Risen” because instead of joy, they were still filled will doubt. They were also filled with so much fear that they were hiding behind closed doors.
They failed to understand that Jesus came into the world to give His life, then to take it up again (cf. John 10:17-18). Jesus prepared them many times for His resurrection but they still did not understand nor were prepared for it.
At the beginning of the Gospel of John when Jesus began His ministry He was faced with several challenges. In one encounter, Jesus said: “[19] ... ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ [20] The Jews then said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’ ” (John 2:19-20). Saint John then adds: “But he spoke of the temple of his body.” (John 2:21).
Then towards the end of the Gospel of John, the last miracle that Jesus did before His own resurrection was the raising up of Lazarus from the dead. When Lazarus’s sister Martha said to Him: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21), Jesus tells her “Your brother will rise” (John 11:23) then goes on to tell her “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

Also after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two of his followers who were going to Emmaus and told them that not only had he prepared them for His resurrection, but also the entire Old Testament had prepared people for His death and resurrection. Jesus said: “..., ‘O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ [27] And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
Saint Luke also tells us in the Acts of the Apostles that Jesus “presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) By doing this Jesus strengthened His followers in every way possible, then gave them the power of the Holy Spirit so that they could not only say “Christ is Risen” but also be entirely convinced when they affirm “He is Truly Risen.”
They needed this strength, because most of them would die confessing: “Christ is Risen, He is truly Risen.” For example, Saint Matthew, was killed for his faith in Ethiopia, Saint Mark was dragged by horses through the streets of Alexandria, Egypt until he died, Saint Luke, was hanged in Greece, Saint Peter was crucified upside down in Rome, Saint James was thrown off the high part of the temple because he refused to deny his faith in Christ. He survived and was then beaten with clubs.
Saint James the Great, was beheaded in Jerusalem and the Roman officer who was guarding him became amazed at his faith, immediately professed Christ, and was beheaded with him. Saint Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel, was whipped to death in Armenia. Saint Andrew was whipped severely then crucified in Patras, Greece. Saint Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India. Saint Jude was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. Saint Matthias was stoned and then beheaded, and Saint Paul was tortured many times, then beheaded by the Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67.
After they received the Holy Spirit, the early followers of Christ were entirely convinced when they said “Christ is Risen. He is truly Risen” and were even willing to die for this statement and their unwavering faith in Christ.
Since that first Sunday morning when the women announced the Good News to the trembling apostles, we as a Christian community have continued to proclaim that “Christ is Risen. He is truly Risen.” We gather in a special way every year to proclaim His resurrection. We also gather to proclaim His resurrection every Sunday, and hopefully we are also able to do this every day.

What makes us real followers of Jesus is not only that we believe that Jesus rose from the dead two thousand years ago, but that Jesus rises from the dead and raises us up with Him every day of our life and in every way during our life.
We do not say “Christ was risen. He was truly risen” but “Christ is risen. He is truly risen” because when we have full faith in Christ, we are filled with the same Holy Spirit that was given to the apostles and which allowed them to continue professing their faith in the risen Christ every day of their life.
So today, we ask ourselves “Is Christ Risen? Is He truly Risen?” Then move on to reflect on how we can show ourselves that Christ is truly risen. For us, this is more than a statement, it is also a daily commitment. It is a daily commitment to grow in knowledge of God’s word. It is a daily commitment to grow in patience, in love, and in service to others. It is also a daily commitment to break free from everything in our life that is not consistent with the Gospel.
If Christ is Risen, then in what way is He risen? We believe that Christ is Risen and that He has the power, if we allow Him, to raise us up as well. He has the power to raise us up from any negative attitude. He has the power to raise us up from any addiction to drugs, alcohol, immorality, gambling, faithlessness, anger, greed, envy, and the many other addictions that keep us imprisoned in the tomb of our sins.
When we commit ourselves to turn away from all sin and to turn to Christ through every difficulty in our life, it is then that the statement “Christ is Risen” can be responded to in a convincing way with “He is truly Risen.”
This is the faith that was handed on to us from the apostles, this is the faith that has been proclaimed throughout these past 2000 years, and this is the faith that we proclaim today.
May the prayers of this past week and the celebration of this Paschal Divine Liturgy, help all of us to grow in a real and active faith that is not afraid of moving beyond sin and death, to experience the living power of the resurrection as we proclaim:
Christ is Risen. He is truly Risen. Almaseeh Qaam. Haqqan Qaam.