The good folks at Our Lady of Lourdes in Westwood heard the following message:
Over the last week, more than anything, we hear about a certain little tournament going on, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Reports show that nearly 70% of Americans enter at least some type of pool, arranging brackets and studying up the teams, and the most often heard question this time of year: who’s in your Final Four picks? (Just a show of hands, who here filled out a bracket?)
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoy the tournament as much as the next guy, and I hope Xavier makes a good run, hopefully even to ….. But the question I have with regard to the other ‘Big Thing’ we celebrated this week is this: no matter who wins this tournament, will it actually have a day to day impact on our life, on my life? As much fun as the tournament is, I don’t think so. We watch, we root, we enjoy, we clamor for the coach to be fired if he doesn’t win it all; but regardless our lives go on.
This ‘Other Event’ that I spoke of, though, has a drastic impact, not only in our daily lives, but also a dramatic effect on our souls into Eternal Life. And again, as much as I enjoy the tournament, I think this event is much more dramatic, much more important, much more life changing than any basketball event could ever have. Obviously, the event I refer to is the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord: a singular event which happened nearly two thousand years ago, yet an event which we enter into every time we celebrate the Mass. It is a life changing event that we can enter into every day of our lives, if we so choose. Yet, the temptation is to talk of something so mundane as a sports tournament.
Looking back to the First Reading today, we hear Peter’s impassioned speech in the house of Cornelius in Caesaria by the Sea. Truly, Peter is a gifted speaker and through his words many came to believe on this day and the faith is opened to those who were Gentiles, no longer just Jews, thanks be to God! Peter sums up the whole of the faith in these few short words, and presents it with such passion, such conviction, such vigor that the crowds are immediately opened and welcome the Holy Spirit.
Sadly, I only see this passion today when it comes to sports, and our conversation about the faith is relegated to something you just do not do in polite company. My argument is that this is nothing more important to talk about than our faith! Do you understand what we celebrate today? Jesus was DEAD, story over, see ya later, turn out the lights on this whole movement. As of last Friday, it was DONE!
Then this morning, low and behold, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb, and it is empty! Peter and John run to meet their Lord, and He is not there! This is the moment when their lives are changed forever! They are no longer afraid to acknowledge that they even know Jesus, now they will proclaim Him from the rooftops!
This is what we need for today, this same zeal that led Peter to give his life in Rome, that led ten of the other eleven to give their lives for Christ; (all except John, who remained faithful at the Cross and believed at the moment he entered the tomb.)
And it is not just from me, and its not from just the deacon; it is this zeal that we need from everyone.
Ask yourself the question: how much time did I spend this past week preparing for Easter versus preparing for a, really, meaningless game. If we spent as much time pursuing the Truth from Christ (who is Truth embodied) as we spent arranging and rearranging brackets for a tournament; what would our world be like?
Now, will you seek him out, run to the empty tomb, come in and believe?