APRIL 20, 2003, EASTER DAY MASS- HOMILY: ACTS 10: 37-43 

GOD RAISED JESUS ON THE THIRD DAY AND ALLOWED HIM TO APPEAR TO US WHO WERE CHOSEN BY GOD AS WITNESSES. With these words Peter, recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of Cornelius, the Roman officer, and his family, began the mission to the nations of the world.  As he began this landmark sermon he summed up the meaning of our Lord’s life in a brief sentence, saying: “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ- he is Lord of all.” The peace of which the apostle speaks here does not refer to the absence of war and hostility among nations, though it includes that state of things in its scope. Rather, the peace that Jesus preached and effected is the result of reconciliation with God the Father.  The fullness of favor that those who accept Jesus as Savior find with their God and Creator. This is the significance of Jesus life as well as his preaching. 

The final words of this sentence are of the utmost import: Jesus Christ is Lord of all. We are so habituated to this title of Jesus that we react to hearing it with no great astonishment. We do well to reflect on the message it held for those who heard it in the days when it was first spoken, whether Jew or pagan. Peter concluded the first sermon he ever preached, given before a Jewish audience on Pentecost morning, with this same assertion he was to repeat to Cornelius: “God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified. (Acts 2: 36).  The fruit of the Resurrection together with the gift of the Spirit was faith that Jesus is truly the favorite of God and sits at the right hand of the Father. If that did not yet convey the fullness of equality to the Father, yet with further enlightenment it was not long before this implied significance was grasped. This was all the more readily construed in that the word ‘Lord’ that is ascribed to Jesus here is the term used by the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible for God Himself.  

Before long the Liturgy was referring to Jesus as Lord and calling upon him to be present among his people as they celebrated the Eucharist. We have evidence of this usage in the very first Eucharistic prayer that was in use already in apostolic times. In the Didache Jesus is addressed in his own Aramaic language as Lord, beseeching him to come among his  people even now ‘Maranatha’, that is to say, ‘Come our Lord Jesus.’ St. Paul in one of his letters has also preserved this liturgical prayer in its original Aramaic, a sure indication he is passing on the usage of the primitive Church of Jewish-Christians. (1Cor 16: 22). The Apocalypse repeats it in Greek translation in the last sentence of the Bible save one: “Come, Lord Jesus!“  

This prayer was not only an entreaty for the final coming of the Lord Jesus in glory at the end of time, though it includes that perspective. It was made in the firm conviction that he lives now, interceding for his people at the right hand of the Father. He continues to have care for those who put their faith and trust in him, and so is disposed to be attentive to their needs and desires. The faithful expected the Lord to come among  them as they gathered to recall his death and resurrection at the Eucharist.  

This morning as we commemorate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, let us make this prayer of the early Church our own. Not only with our lips ‘du bout des levres’ as the French put it, but with the yearnings of our soul. For if Jesus is risen from the dead and sits in glory at the right hand of the Father, it is for our. He does not await the last day to reveal himself to us in glory; he offers to do so now, at this Eucharist, provided that we desire it above all other desires. His Lordship is invisible but nonetheless real for that, and nonetheless powerful. The Gospel Jesus preached, Paul tells us, “is the power of God “ Now, the same apostle teaches it is Christ who is “the power of God and the wisdom of God”.Such was the conviction of the primitive Church.  May we make this truth our own today so as to live by this divine power and grace given to us in this communion with Jesus, the Lord of Glory.

  Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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