April 16, 2017

A HOMILY FOR EASTER SUNDAY –  CYCLE “A” –  APRIL 16TH, 2017  –  SMG

+  Pax et Bonum!    Peace and goodness to you on this Feast!

Easter of 1968 was a monumental occasion in my family’s household.  I was eight-years-old and in the third grade.  And it was that particular Easter, that my brothers and I got live rabbits for Easter.  It was the best!  Who wants a stuffed rabbit, or a chocolate rabbit, or a marshmallow rabbit, when you can have the real thing!   My rabbit was white with a large black spot covering the left side of his head.  And so what did I call my new rabbit?  Spot.  I know, it’s usually a dog’s name, but I didn’t get a dog for Easter, I got rabbit.  I made my brothers call him, “Mr. Spot”.  So on Easter Sunday afternoon, April 14th, 1968, my brothers and I got the “talk” from my Father, about the rabbits.  Not that talk.  I was only eight-years old!  We got the responsibility talk from my Father.  My Dad said, that with the rabbits, came great responsibility.  It was now going to be up to each one of us to take care of our rabbits.  We had to take that responsibility very seriously.  And I, being the oldest, I did!  Spot became my number one priority!  We needed to make sure, every day, that the rabbits got fed, and plenty of water, and that we took them out of their pen and let them get some exercise, and that we kept them pen clean and a nice place for them to live.  And man, I was on it!  I took great care of Spot!  He always had fresh water.  In the summertime, I would even put ice in it!  I cleaned his pen twice a day.  Who knew that rabbits went to the bathroom that often!  And Spot became the best fed rabbit of all time!  I gave Spot food in the morning, and food at night.  Plus, I’d sneak him snacks.  Hey, I figured I liked snacks.  Surely, my rabbit would also like snacks.  And he did!  He really liked Chips A-Hoy cookies.  Well, about a month after Easter, Spot was twice the size of my brother’s rabbits.  So Spot spent the summer on a diet.  But he was still one, big rabbit.  By the end of the summer, when it was time to go back to school, our rabbits went to live on a farm with other rabbits.  It seems that my brother’s rabbit was going to have baby rabbits.  And my mother had a three rabbit limit!  But the lesson in responsibility stuck with me.  You gotta take good care of the things that you care about.

I suppose we all learn that lesson some way.  For some, it’s their first pet.  For others, it’s their first car.  Maybe for others it is their first child.  But responsibility, and accountability, and ownership are valuable life lessons.  We are learn as we go through this life, that we’ve got to take care of the things that are of value to you.  Ownership has its responsibilities and its costs.  When something belongs to you, you DO care about it, you DO take care of it, and you DO protect it!

On this Easter of 2017, we’re going to have the responsibility talk.  Today, we remember that as  we gather here today, we ARE baptized members of the Christian Faith and the Catholic Church!  The responsibility for our Faith and for our Church belongs to each and every one of us.  Unfortunately, for many Catholics, that is a news flash.  This is not just the Pope’s Church.  And it is not just the Bishop’s Church.  And it’s not just Fr. Kevin’s and Fr. Sean’s Church.  The Church isn’t just the responsibility of our Business Manager.  And it is not just up to the Parish Council, or the choir, or Mr. Maue’s PRE class.  The responsibility for being Church and for our Faith, is given to each and every one of us!  We can’t forget this.  Today, the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Gospel message, the Good News of the Resurrection that Jesus Christ is very much alive, even two-thousand years later, is given to each, and every one of us.  My brothers and sisters, it is high time that each and every one of us take that responsibility seriously.  Some day, God is going to ask us what we did with that responsibility, how we lived out our Faith, how we build the Kingdom of God, and how we took care of the Church.  The responsibility has an accountability attached to it.  And believe me, God is looking for a lot more than just going to Church one or twice a year, or once a month, or even going to Church every week.  God wants us to take seriously our call to live out our Faith and to build up His Church every single day of our lives!  And there’s plenty of work to do!

This is OUR Faith!  And this is OUR Church.  You have an ownership in this!  We all do.  Don’t we all have to care more for the Church than what we do?  Doesn’t our responsibility dictate that we do as much as we can, every day, to keep the Church strong, and to witness to our Faith?  What sacrifices have you made lately?  What have you done to live out your responsibility?

Last Sunday, on Palm Sunday, over 50 Coptic Christians, that’s a branch of the Catholic Church, by the way, were murdered in bombings, when they went to Mass in Egypt.  Nearly two-hundred more were wounded.  They died or were wounded for their Faith.  That’s a serious responsibility!  They are killing Christians.  You realize, of course, that they are us!  They are killing people who are baptized, and confirmed, and who were doing nothing more than trying to go to Mass and to Communion, just like we are today!  Ask yourself, do you take that kind of ownership of this Church and this Faith, that you would die for it?

Let’s be clear about this, most especially today.  A new commitment is called for.  This is why, in just a few minutes, we’re going to be renewing our Baptismal promises together.  We are called to be living a new life in Christ, a life that is always new, and that is radical!  This is not a time for wimpy Christians.  You can’t be luke warm.  You’re either in, or you’re out.  And each one of us have got to make up our minds and be committed.

***  RCIA insert for the Easter Vigil

Our God is pursuing each and every one of us!  And this is the God Who wouldn’t stay dead in that tomb, so be assured that He is coming after you!  He’s after not just one or two of us, or a few of us, He is after ALL of us!  One Church!  One people!  One belonging to the God Who lasts forever!  Think of the power and the strength that that gives us!  That’s what belongs to us.  And that’s why today, we are responsible to God!

From Fr. Sean, and Deacon Steve, and our entire Parish and School Staff here at St. Maria Goretti, we wish you a blessed and happy Easter!  Live the Faith!  Own the Church!  And don’t over feed your rabbit!

+_May God bless us this Easter,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit …                                   AMEN !!!

St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!