Easter is too great, it is too important to just give it 24 hours. Here we are on the fifth day of the octave of Easter. We are still trying to absorb its meaning, its weight, as it pertains to mankind in general and to each of us in particular. There is so much that we need to unpack for our benefit. Today, we continue to hear about the impact of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection on His apostles – and us. For me, today I am reminded of one of the four pillars of the Church – she is apostolic and therefore so are we.
There is a line in the epic fantasy trilogy the Lord of the Rings that has always struck me. Frodo Baggins is reminiscing with Gandalf the wizard about what Bilbo Baggins used to tell him. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’
The apostles have just seen their leader slaughtered and all hope had disappeared – now they are hiding from the authorities. Even with the recent news from some of their followers our Gospel reading has them in the upper room with the doors locked. But to their amazement the recent news is true – Christ appears to them and assures them of His victory – He has died and He is risen; and what is more – it was always to be so.
But this good news comes with responsibility, obligation, a mandate, and that is to go out from that room, step into the road. What is more they will have to continue what He had started: ‘that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’ Why? Because: ‘You are witnesses of these things.’ This is no small request; this is what made Him enemies and so it only figures to bring danger to the apostles. But they stepped into the road nonetheless. The Acts of the Apostles, where are first reading is from, gives us witness to their first steps.
Brothers and sisters we too have been given this great news of our salvation. We too participate in the celebration of seeing Christ glorified (which we will see again in a few minutes on this altar in the Eucharist), and we too have the same commission leveled to us – step into the road. There is no denying that by being members of Holy Mother Church we are called to take up the great commission that Christ gave His apostles ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.’
What will our answer to our Lord’s mandate be?
- The apostles left the security of the upper room and took courage that their risen Lord would not leave them alone: ‘And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.’ He assures them at the commissioning. Can we take from this the same assurance?
- The apostles broke from their closed circle to go out and help a sick world – a world that hated their master’s message. It was for that reason that went out to help those who Jesus loved – to bring the peace and joy that they had been given. Are we ready to take the same step for the same reason? Pope Francis insists that we do so; during a General Audience in October of 2013 he said as much. ‘This is what Jesus told us to do! I insist on this missionary aspect, because Christ invites all to ‘go out’ and encounter others, he sends us, he asks us to move in order to spread the joy of the Gospel!’ Don’t be ‘sacristy Catholics’ Pope Francis said that day.
Friends we are celebrating the good news of salvation given to us by our Lord. Within each of us should be a love that is trying to burst out; an overwhelming desire to bring this good news that has given us peace and joy, to others. Let us give it a way out – let’s go out of our door and take a step onto the road. Bilbo told Frodo: ‘if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ We don’t have to worry about keeping our feet as long as we hold tight to our head – Jesus Christ.
Christus Resurrexit! Vere Resurrexit!
 Homily for the Mass for Thursday in the Octave of Easter (Cycle II) Acts 3:11-16, Lk 24:35-48
 Lord of the Rings 1.3.74 JRR Tolkien
 Lk 24:48
 Mt 28:19-20a
 Mt 28:20b
 Pope Francis General Audience 10/16/2013
 Lord of the Rings 1.3.74 JRR Tolkien