Made on a Mac
                                   (Please click HERE for Fr. John’s Homily 
                                 “Thoughts on the deaths of two good young mothers.”
                                                                Sunday 14th May 2017.)

                                 Fr. Bernard’s Homily for 
                                             Sunday 30th April


Luke 24: 13-35

I am sure some of you here remember Watergate, the great scandal that hit the government of the United States in 1974, which led to the resignation of President Nixon, and to several of his most senior officials being sent to prison.  The President himself was only spared prosecution because his successor gave him a presidential pardon.

He had recently been re-elected to the presidency, but during the election campaign some of his followers broke into a building called Watergate, the headquarters of the Democratic party, to get some evidence that would be damaging to one of his opponents.

Unfortunately for them, the effort was bungled, they were caught and gradually the full story began to emerge, which unfolded a conspiracy going right to the top, including the President and his most senior officials.

The officials were questioned relentlessly day after day and one by one they eventually cracked and admitted their criminality.  There was one famous response when a spokesman was challenged on what he had asserted the previous day and he responded: That statement is no longer operative.

What all this is leading to is that one of these officials, regarded as the President’s hatchet man was called Chuck Colson.  During his time in prison he had a religious conversion, and became quite an evangelist afterwards.  Among his various writings, he wrote of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead:

I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me.  How?  Because 12 men (i.e. the apostles) testified they had seen Jesus risen from the dead, and then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, not one of them ever denying it. 

Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison (and most of them put to death in the most brutal way).  They would not have endured that if what they were saying were not true.

Watergate on the other hand embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world - and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.

You’re telling me the apostles could keep a lie for 40 years?  Absolutely impossible.

So, not only had the apostles nothing to gain materially from preaching Christ risen from the dead, but they suffered, as Colson said, being beaten, tortured, stoned, put in prison and most of them suffering a violent death.  They were mocked, they were interrogated, but such was the power of their preaching that thousands of people became believers and the Christian community grew in the most amazing way.

There are other arguments that indicate that Jesus had truly risen:

There is no doubt about the empty tomb on Sunday morning - even the  critics admit it.  But where was the body of Jesus?  One would imagine that those determined to disprove the resurrection would, sooner or later have traced down to where it was finally buried.  But they never did.  In any case, who would have moved the body during the night?  Not the apostles - remember they had all fled and distanced themselves from the scene.

Furthermore there are the very discrepancies in the different accounts of the appearances of the risen Jesus.  For example, when Mary Magdalene encountered him she did not recognise him until he addressed her as ‘Mary’   Likewise, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognise the man who joined them and spoke with them for the rest of the journey, until he broke bread for them - and then he disappeared.

Now one would imagine that if there were a conspiracy to tell a lie, the conspirators would agree on the details and certainly would not have included an unnecessary complication, namely the puzzling detail of Jesus not being recognised at first by people who would have known him well.

The conclusion is that the Gospels are telling it,  just as it was.  This is what happened – take it or leave it.

There is also the undeniable fact that belief in Jesus risen from the dead has survived over two thousand years.  During that time the arguments have gone to and fro, in the most intense way.

One would imagine that such an extraordinary belief would be easy to demolish – but not at all.

Easter Sunday is still the day when churches throughout the world are crowded, including with many who do not frequent church otherwise.

Christ overcame death, but also overcame the power of evil, not only for himself, but for al  l of us, not only then but for all time.

During the past two thousand years, evil empires have come and eventually gone.  They come, they flourish, they dominate, they decline, they disappear, sometimes without trace.

But the risen Christ the Son of God, is still with us, our strength, our model and our inspiration.