2nd Sunday of Easter

Sunday, April 23, 2017
Fr. Jon
Homily transcription: 

2nd Sunday / Easter / A

April 22-23, 2017

St. Thomas Aquinas, Ames, Iowa

Fr. Jon Seda


Next month on May 20, a new shrine will be dedicated in Assisi, Italy.  It marks where St. Francis of Assisi renounced his family's wealth, literally stripped himself of his fine clothes, and embraced poverty.  Yesterday in particular I wish I was more like St. Francis.  I moved to the new rectory and was overwhelmed, and actually embarrassed by how much stuff I had to move.


Pope Francis spoke of this new chapel last Sunday, and he used a phrase that intrigues me.  He said our world is marked by much "individualistic sadness."  In my years as a priest and many conversations with people about life, I can see where those two words go together.  Individualistic.  Sadness.  We are created in the image and likeness of God, which means we are created for love, we are created for relationship, we are created for community.  To say or think I don't need others, and that I can live life on my own, is to invite a deep sadness into our lives.


Compare this with the approach of the early church we heard about in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles.  They had a radically communal life.  At its core is doing what we are doing now, to gather on Sunday, the day of the resurrection, to do the Eucharist.  For them, there was no such thing as an individualistic Christian.  One had to be an active participant in the community, and one had to get involved in the messiness of other people's lives.


They actually went so far that no one had any private property.  The community, the church, owned everything and was given out to each according to his or her need.  Can you imagine giving Fr. Charlie control of your bank account, your IRA, and all your possessions?  And then have him give out to each one of us according to our need?  I can't either, and am not sure I was get much from him.  But that is how the early church lived, in a radically communal life.


We need other people.  On certain times in life, we are acutely aware of this.  There is no way I could have moved to the new house yesterday without lots of help.  I am grateful for all the offer to help, and to he guys from Saints Peter and Paul parish who did this for me, and had a good time doing so.


This reading from the Acts of the Apostles makes me think of an event when I was in sixth grade.  My Dad was a farmer, and that year, he fell off the corn crib the week harvest was to begin and broke his ankle.  He has five small boys at home and had no way to get his crops out.  Like me yesterday with moving, he had to swallow his pride and admit he needed help.  So then a whole bunch of Czech farmers from my small home parish got together---and here is the most amazing part of it---without forming a committee---and came and took all of our crops out in one day.  I still remember that day, how everyone was so joyful.  It was beautiful.


That is why I love being Catholic.  When we belong to Christ, we belong to one another, we help each other, in good times and bad.


That is also why I do not understand some Catholics who seem to be mere consumers with little sense of any obligation to the community.  To belong to Jesus without being an active participant in the messiness of the life of the community makes no sense to me.


In today's Gospel, we hear the story of the transformation of Jesus' crucified body.  But the transformation of Easter did not end there, but spilled over into the life of the early church.  May the Eucharist we do together on this Sabbath transform us, away from individualistic sadness, to a radically communal way of life.