Posts Tagged ‘Easter Joy’

Feeling Our Easter Joy

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Thursday of Easter Week

Acts 3: 11-26; Luke 24: 35-48

Dc. Larry Brockman

Is this just another day; one of the many in our lifetime.  Or are you feeling the Easter joy!

You should all be feeling tremendously joyful.  And you should be fired up to share and witness your joy and belief because “Jesus Christ is risen; he is risen indeed.”  And all of us will rise just like him to eternal life if we believe, repent, and follow after him.  Yes, all of us are called to be his witnesses.

There was a time in human history when Resurrection from the dead and eternal life was just a vague promise.  There was no proof because nobody had seen or experienced it.  There were many veiled references in the Jewish Scripture.  But they were not believed by everyone.  And in fact, the Jews were split at Jesus time into two camps.  The Pharisees and their followers believed in the Resurrection; and the Sadducees and their followers did not believe.

But that all changed on Easter Sunday in the year 0 AD because Jesus Christ rose from the dead and showed himself to hundreds of people during that first Easter season.  We hear of one of Jesus appearances in Luke’s Gospel today; and how Jesus explained that he fulfilled the scriptures that predicted his suffering, death, and resurrection.  And we have today’s account from Acts on how the Apostles shared their experience with the people.  They became the witnesses that Jesus asked them to become in the Gospel.

But not only that, so strong was their conviction and faith that they were able to perform many miracles in Jesus name.  They explained that these miracles were performed by the power of God, not by them; but because of their faith and the strength of their witnessing, they were able to perform such miracles.  They were exuberant, and they didn’t care what the authorities thought or did because they knew that everlasting life was real.

And so, there is great cause for rejoicing for us because no matter what our lives have been like; and no matter what they will be like in the future here in this life; we know that there is something better.  We have been told by eye witnesses, just as the people in the crowd in the account from Acts.  Yes, all the events in Acts and the Apostles were recorded for our benefit.  They were the records left by eye witnesses.  Heaven is real; the messiah is real; and we are blessed who do not see, but believe.

So, what are you and I doing about that?  Are we spreading our joy?  Or are we living life as we always lived it. The resurrection changed life for the disciples of Jesus.  And like the Tribune in the recent movie “Risen”; it changed the life for all who saw first-hand.

Those of us who have only heard but not seen- we are challenged.  But blessed are those who believe and have not seen.  That’s what Jesus said.  And we can make a difference by witnessing to the ends of the Earth.  Jesus is counting on us to spread his word and the Gospel by what we say and do.  Just like the miracles the Apostles worked through the power of God, God can do mighty works through those of us who believe.  We do those works by following Jesus call to live our Christian values no matter what the rest of the world believes and does.  The mighty works will follow.

Yes,  “Jesus Christ is risen; he is risen indeed,” Amen!

Your Easter Duty

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Westminster Towers Ecumenical Service

Based on Reading 1, Thursday of 3rd Week of Easter

Acts 8: 26-40

By Deacon Larry Brockman


How are you folks doing with your Easter Duty?  Well?  I see some blank looks out there.  What is my Easter Duty, you say?  


Well first, let me put things into perspective.  We are in the middle of celebrating Easter, and the Easter season lasts 50 days.  During Easter we celebrate the fact that Jesus forever changed things in our world.  Up until the Easter event, we were all just waiting, waiting for the Messiah to come and save us from our sins and to show us the way to Eternal Life in the Kingdom of God with God.  But when Jesus actually rose from the dead and appeared to His apostles, He fulfilled that promise.  And that’s what our joy is supposed to be all about.  We are celebrating an “aha” experience like none other.  We have been saved and those who repent and believe have been guaranteed eternal life.  And so we say Alleluia, Alleluia,   (Holding hand to the ear) Alleluia! 

Yes, Jesus the Christ rose from the dead, and proved that he was in a resurrected state with a resurrected body.  He proved that to his disciples on Easter, and our Gospel readings the last several Sundays have been all about that.  You have been witnesses to all of that!  So, are you feeling the Easter joy- Amen and Alleluia! 


So, are we supposed to just bask in this good news of our Easter joy for the 50 days,and then move on to the long hot summer, or what? 


Well, actually, if you recall Jesus parting words to His disciples in the Easter Gospel, He tells us what he expects of us.  He expects us to spread the good news- the Gospel.  That’s what the word Gospel means, you know.  We are expected to spread that Good News of our Salvation and to baptize all nations in the name of then Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit!  You and I are the modern day disciples, and we have been witnesses to Jesus’ words as well.  And so, simply stated, our Easter duty is also to evangelize, to spread the word, the Good News to all by being witnesses of all Jesus saw and did. 


Now, the scripture we just read tells one person’s story about how he evangelized.  It is Philip’s story; and it is a great lesson for all of us on what evangelizing is all about.  First and foremost, Philip believed.  Of course, he actually saw the risen Christ- he was there.  He was there to put his finger in the holes in Jesus hands and side and feet, to see Jesus eat a piece of baked fish,  and he listened as Jesus talked to the disciples about what the scriptures meant and how He had fulfilled their meaning.  He was there during Jesus’ three year mission of teaching as well.  And so, Philip believed and was well informed on what Jesus had said.


We have heard Jesus words as well, and we should all be believers- not just casual believers, but enthusiastic believers.  We have been saved; this Jesus stuff is real!  The Messiah did come and still lives.  We are going to see the Kingdom!  And so, we all need to be well informed, because that’s part of what it means to be a Christian.  We have got to know what it is that we are supposed to believe so that we can teach others.  We do that by the style of life we live, and by teaching others about Jesus at the right time.


Next, Philip heard Jesus direction to the disciples to spread the Good news to the ends of the earth by being witnesses to all Jesus said and did, and by baptizing all people.  But Philip didn’t just hear that direction, he lived it.  Indeed, Philip was so excited about his experience of Easter that he was in tune for what God had in mind for him.  And so, he recognized the angel sent by the Lord, the angel that sent him down the road from Jerusalem to Gaza on the Mediterranean Coast.  Yes, Philip heard his call to action and moved out.  He didn’t wait for all the details asking God questions like  “Which chariot, and what day and time”,   Or “exactly what am I to do in Gaza?”  No, rather, Philip was open to God moving him little by little.


All of us have been called to action to evangelize as well.  We do that by the behavior we exhibit.  Do we show our Easter joy?  Because, it can be infectious to those who don’t believe.  And are we listening to God as we pray, listening to that small still voice inside of us?  That little voice can give us little urgings to do something, or even just to say something when the situation arises, something that helps us to spread the good news. 


And so then what happens to Philip?  Well, God gives Philip the opportunity to evangelize.  God had placed this Ethiopian Eunuch in the Chariot with Philip.  The Eunuch was an official of the court of the Queen of Ethiopia, a far distant land in East Central Africa.  And by chance, the Eunuch was what we call a Jewish sympathizer, meaning he was not a Jew, but followed the Jewish scriptures.  This man was reading about Isaiah’s prophesy of the Messiah, and he was confused; he didn’t understand.  And so, Philip explained it all to him, about how Jesus was the Messiah and that all that was predicted in Isaiah had happened.  The Eunuch responded- he wanted to be baptized.  So Philip stopped the Chariot, and the Eunuch was baptized right then and there; and that started the Church in Ethiopia.  Traces of the Church can still be found there today despite historical events over the centuries, not the least of which was the spread of Islam beginning in the 7th century.  And so, Philip’s evangelization of the Eunuch  led to a significant spread of Christianity- the actions of just one person.  


Now this part of the story tells us a lot about our own duty to evangelize.  We don’t necessarily know why God has placed us at a specific place at a specific time.  But God knows.  And any place and any time can be the right place and the right time from God’s perspective.  This can be the right place and time for you and I to evangelize.  We, too, all will be given opportunities to influence others. 


As I look out at all of you today, I am reminded that you live in a large community here.  Where are all the others today?  Some that are not here, of course, have deep faith; but what about those who have drifted off from their faith, perhaps bitter over the experiences of life.  You folks live right along side of them.  It is never too late for them to see your Christian Easter joy over the fact that you are saved.  And it is never too late for you to share your joy and the message of Jesus when the time is right.  Is God calling you to do that? 


But Guess what?  Philip’s story was not over after the Eunuch was baptized.  As important and as significant as Philip’s actions were in the lives of the Ethiopians, the story did not end there.  Rather, we see that Philip, after baptizing the Eunuch, was caught up by the spirit, and after reaching Gaza, goes up the coast “Proclaiming the good news” in all the towns up to Caesarea.  


Likewise, our story does not end the first time we connect.  Our story goes on and on, as long as life is left in us.  Yes, we are called to share our joy as Christians continuously, even as we approach a ripe old age.  How exciting is that! 

That reminds me of a story about a person in my life.  I will call him Johnny and he is a member of my parish, Holy Family.  Right now Johnny is 87.  He was raised Catholic by one parent, andt his other parent was Jewish.  But he really took to his Christian Faith.  Johnny had a long career with a major company.and raised a family with his wife.  After Johnny retired, he became very active in the Church.  Despite multiple illnesses and surgeries, Johnny has not let that slow him down.  He uses a cane now, but still leads bible studies and participates in St. Vincent de Paul ministry to the poor. He always has a smile and a cheerful attitude.  Johnny’s wife has Alzheimer’s Disease now, and Johnny struggles to care for her in his own home.  His family is concerned about his health.  Johnny is concerned about his loved one.


Why do I bring Johnny up?  Because Johnny evangelizes his Christian faith by what he does.  He doesn’t have to talk about his faith, because everybody can see it in action.  But, the fact is, he loves to talk about it too- and he does that all the time. 

All of us have an Easter Duty-  to spread the Good News, the Gospel; to evangelize in word and deed.  There are a lot of potential Johnny’s right here-  people who can live their faith with grace and fervor and be a beacon to others that Jesus is risen and has brought us all everlasting life in heaven.