Friday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle II

Published: September 19, 2014

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily during the Mass for members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem at St. John Catholic Center in Little Rock on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014.

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Bishop Taylor

Gathered here as Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher, the tomb from which Jesus rose from the dead, it seems very appropriate that our first reading today contains St. Paul's great discussion of Jesus' resurrection from the dead and what that means for us. 

Paul's opponents in Corinth had been saying that the dead don't rise again, to which Paul responds that if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then the whole Christian enterprise is in vain. The resurrection obviously has huge implications for what happens after death, which is of course the main thing. But notice what implications Jesus' resurrection also has for us already in this life:

  1. The resurrection proves that truth is stronger than deceit. Jesus was killed in part because he unmasked the deceit of people who had a vested interest in maintaining an unjust status quo. In John's Gospel Jesus said, "Now you seek to kill me, a man who told you the truth" (John 8:40). The resurrection proves that the truth will prevail in the end.
  2. The resurrection proves that good is stronger than evil. Satan and the forces of evil did their worst on Good Friday, and they would have prevailed had there not been an Easter Sunday. Regarding them, Jesus said, "You are of your father, the devil" (John 8:44). The resurrection proves that goodness will prevail in the end.
  3. The resurrection proves that love is stronger than hate. Jesus' condemnation was not the result of a dispassionate weighing of the evidence in a court of law; it was the product of bitter hatred that had become personal. Jesus' words had stung the conscience of some powerful people whose hypocrisy he had unmasked. And yet Jesus never stopped loving them. His words were intended to be medicinal, to restore them to a right relationship with God. The resurrection proves that love will prevail in the end.
  4. The resurrection proves that life is stronger than death. Jesus really and truly died on Good Friday. The resurrection was not a resuscitation: he breathed out his spirit and was gone. You will recall that the Apostles Creed even specifies where he went: "he descended into hell" prior to returning. And yet he did return. This proves that even for us, life will prevail in the end.

As Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher, we are called to give special witness to the power of Jesus' resurrection and the difference the full embrace of this truth can make already in this life. Today's Middle East is a place where it would be easy to give in to hopelessness and despair. Every day we hear news of deceit and evil and hatred and death. If there is no resurrection from the dead, we have little reason to hope for an improvement, at least not any time soon. But Jesus has risen from the dead. Truth is stronger than deceit, hence there is a basis for negotiations.

Paul responds that if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then the whole Christian enterprise is in vain.

Good is stronger than evil, hence there is reason for us to take the high road in our dealings with others. Love is stronger than hate, hence the imperative that we act charitably in all matters. And life is stronger than death, hence the importance of making sure that no one dies in vain. It is to these things that we are to give witness. And it is for the full establishment of truth, goodness, love and life in every human heart — starting with our own — and in every region of the world, that we are gathered to pray today.