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Father Muench Says...

Easter homily: three stories in one

April 26, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to share with you just how I developed my homily for Easter Sunday, our celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.

I had decided that the first part of my homily would be about Baptism since Easter is a Baptismal Feast. Each year, the catechumens preparing to enter the Catholic Church are baptized at the Easter Vigil.

In addition, at each of the Masses on Easter Sunday, we all celebrate the anniversary of our own Baptism by renewing our Baptismal Promises, the proclamation of our belief in God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and our rejection of all that is evil.

I must admit that I didn’t decide on the introduction to this part of the homily until Easter Sunday morning.  I got up early on Sunday to attend the Ecumenical Sunrise Service here in town.  I even went to the pancake breakfast at the Presbyterian Church.

When I got back home, I still had plenty of time before my Mass so I flipped on the television.  I stumbled on the old movie station and they were showing the movie, “Godspell.”  Remember that one?  “Godspell” came out in 1973 and was a rather modern mystery play following the Gospel’s story of Jesus was set in New York City.

The movie begins with a John the Baptist character leading ten young individuals who are ready to follow him.  Then comes a Baptismal scene.  They dance toward a large fountain set over a large basin filled with water. 

They all jump right into the water and they dance around and jump around in the water, splashing each other and seemingly filled with joy and happiness.  John the Baptist pushes them under the water in a sort of Baptism. 

The whole scene becomes a happy party.  I realized that the scene added something wonderful to the whole message of Baptism.

I decided to use this “Godspell” scene to introduce the homily on resurrection and this section on Baptism.  I wanted the people to realize the joy and happiness of Baptism.  Even our renewal of our Baptism should be a time of joy and happiness.  In the sacrament of Baptism, we are chosen by our God, chosen to be the very ones who can make our world a better place, chosen because God realizes that we have something special about us.
The Lord leads us in Baptism to a new life, to be born again, to have a new spirit to make the world alive in the Lord Jesus, our Savior.  It is such a sacred moment, like those young people frolicking in the water.

Then I planned to go on to the Resurrection of Jesus. We are a resurrected people and one day we will find new life just as Jesus did.

One more thing – let me share a bit with you on how I came up with my conclusion. During the week or so before Easter I watched C-span, you know that channel that has the speeches and stuff like that.  I never watch C-span but I came upon this program that caught my attention.  It was a talk given by Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court Justice, to the law students at Stanford University. She was terrific and grabbed my attention rather quickly.  This justice has such a bright personality.  I found the talk interesting since she added so much background to the life of a Supreme Court Justice.

In her talk, Judge Sotomayor mentioned the last two questions she asks herself each day.  The first question was “Did I learn something new today?”  She explained that a day without learning at least one thing new was a lost opportunity.

The other question was “Did I give of myself for someone else today?”  She saw this as an important effort as part of life – everyday.  It doesn’t have to be something spectacular. Actually, it could be something rather simple and ordinary, but meaningful because I did it for someone else.  So as my conclusion I shared with the people the two questions of Justice Sotomayor – after explaining how impressed I was with her and her talk. 
And I must admit I have personally taken up the habit of asking myself these two questions also.

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