By: Fr. Edward Riley, O.P.
JESUS HAS TRULY RISEN
Once there was a person on the planet Jupiter whose name was Lukulukulu. One day, the king of Jupiter called Lukulukulu and said to him, “Lukulukulu, I have heard that there is a very powerful force on earth called Christianity, and that it is changing the face of the earth. Christians say that Jesus rose from the dead and that he even lives in them so that they can live the same life as Jesus. I want you to go to the earth and find a Christian and bring him back so that I can see him.”
Lukulukulu liked to travel, and he had never been to the earth; so he said to the king, “Your majesty, I would be happy to go to the earth and bring back a Christian, but I have two difficulties. The first difficulty is that I don’t speak anyearth language, and the second difficulty is that I don’t know what a Christian looks like. How will I recognize a Christian when I see one?”
The king said, “There is one man on earth who has the gift of tongues, and he is able to speak our language and to speak one of the earth languages which is called English. If you find him, you can ask him to interpret for you. And I have a book here called the Bible. It tells you about Christians. If you read this book, you should be able to recognize a Christian.”
So Lukulukulu began to read the Bible. The only difficulty was that he did not speak English, and the Bible was written in English; so he read the whole Bible, and learned all the words, but he did not know what any of them meant.
When he had finished memorizing the Bible, he got into his space machine and set off for the earth. The people on Jupiter are very intelligent; so Lukulukulu was able to land his space machine in front of the Interpreter’s house.
He got out of the space machine, and knocked on the door. When a man opened the door, Lukulukulu said, “Good morning are you the man who is able to speak the language of Jupiter?” The man replied, “Good morning, I see by the way you speak that you are from Jupiter. You are very welcome to our planet earth. Come in and have something to eat and drink. My name is Idea-no-change-o, and I would be happy to help you in any way I can.”
Lukulululu said, “Maybe you can teach me some English so I can understand this book called the Bible. I am looking for a Christian, and this book is supposed to help me to find one.”
Idea-no-change-o said, “You are lucky to have the Bible because many people who call themselves Christians, but some may not be real Christians. I even call myself a Christian, but when you have understood the Bible, then you can judge whether I am a real Christian, or whether I am just using the name. Let’s go outside, and I will begin to teach you the English language.”
When they went outside, Idea-no-change-o pointed to a stone, and said “That‘s a stone.” Lukulukulu began to smile, and Idea-no-change-o said. “Why are you so happy?”
Lukulukulu said, “Because maybe I have found a Christian. In the Bible it says in 1 Peter 2:4-5, “Come to him, a living stone rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Idea-no-change-o said, “It is true that Christians are living stones and they are united by love to build a spiritual house, but this stone is not a Christian; it is not even living.”
Lukulukulu was disappointed; but he was not so sure that Idea-no-change-o’s interpretation of the Bible was correct; so he picked up the stone anyway and put it in his pocket just in case it might really be a Christian.
They walked on a little further and Lukulukulu pointed to the branch of a tree and said “What is this?” Idea-no-change-o answered, “That’s a branch.” And again Lukulukulu’s face lit up, and he said, “Ah, so this is a Christian.” And he quickly opened his Bible to John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches.”
But Idea-no-change-o said, “Well it’s true that the branch is something like a Christian because the branch draws its life from the tree just as the Christian draws his life from Jesus, but this branch is not a Christian. The Christian is filled with the love of Jesus, but this branch is not able to love anyone”
Again Lukulukulu was disappointed, but he broke off a branch and carried it with him in case it might really be a Christian.
As they walked along they saw a sheep, as soon as Lukulukulu heard that it was a sheep, he opened his Bible to John 10:11-15 which says “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Idea-no-change-o said, I’m happy that you read that text because Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to die for us. He truly is the good shepherd, and we are the sheep for whom he laid down his life. But the sheep for whom Jesus laid down his life are human beings; they are not mere animals like this sheep.”
Lukulukulu listened sadly, but he put a rope around the neck of the sheep and led it along behind him just in case it might really be a Christian, but then he said to Idea-no-change-o, “It’s more difficult to find a Christian than I thought it would be. What do you recommend to help me?”
Idea-no-change-o said, “Here’s a Catholic Church. Let’s go in and pray and ask the Lord to help us to find a Christian.”
When they went in, the priest was just beginning to preach: “My brothers and sisters, we are Christians because God has given us the gift of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and he has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us so that we can love one another as Jesus loves us. And how does Jesus love us? Jesus loves us with an unconditional love. Jesus did not say, ‘If you are good, I will love you.’ He laid down his life for us while we were still sinners.
Parents, by their attitude, may say to their children, ‘If you get good grades in School, I will love you.’ Sometimes husbands by their attitude say to their wives, ‘If you have a child, I will love you.’ They place conditions on their love.
But Jesus loves us for ourselves. He does not place any conditions on his love for us. And he wants us to love one another as we are, and not to wait until people have fulfilled our conditions before we love them.”
Lukulukulu and Idea-no-change-o stayed in the church a little while after the service had ended, and then as they were going out of the Church, Lukulukulu tripped and bumped against a man and knocked him down. The man fell into the mud and when he got up, he began to abuse Lukulukulu. Lukulukulu said, “I see that some people call themselves Christians, but they do not have unconditional love. I will have to continue my search for a real Christian who is so filled with the Spirit of Jesus that he can love people without placing any conditions on his love.”
As they were walking along the street, some soldiers arrested them, and when they were put in prison, they found out that the city had been captured by the foreign soldiers and that many people had been executed. Idea-no-change-o pointed to another prisoner and said to Lukulukulu. “That man killed my father.”
Lukulukulu said, “You must hate him very much. Maybe the soldiers will kill him for you.” Idea-no-change-o said. “No I don’t hate him. Jesus told us to love even our enemies; so I have forgiven him just as Jesus has forgiven me.”
Just then a soldier came in and announced that they were going to kill ten of the prisoners, and the man who had killed Idea-no-change-o’s father was one of them. Idea-no-change-o stepped forward and said, “This man has five children, but I have no children. Take my life instead so that he can take care of his children. The soldiers agreed, and Idea-no-change-o was taken out to be put to death, and all the prisoners were led outside to watch the execution. Before his death Idea-no-change-o repeated the words of Jesus, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
When the soldiers found out that Lukulukulu was from another planet, they released him, and said that he should go back to Jupiter.
When he arrived in Jupiter, he went in to see the king, and he brought with him the stone, the branch and the sheep, and he told the king his story. After he told the king about Idea-no-change-o’s death, the king said, “So you were not able to bring back a real Christian.”
Lukulukulu said, “Your majesty, it’s not easy to bring back a real Christian because as soon as you are certain that he is a real Christian, he has already laid down his life for others just as Jesus did. But I have brought back myself. When I saw the love which filled the life of Idea-no-change-o, I decided to become a Christian myself; so I was baptized before I left the earth. I will teach you what the Bible says about Jesus Christ, and then you can judge whether or not I am a real Christian. If I am able to love my enemies and to do good to those who hate me, and if I am able to lay down my life for others then you will know that I am a true Christian.”
My brothers and sisters, people will know that Jesus has truly risen from the dead if they see his love in our lives. Let us ask Jesus to pour forth his Spirit into our hearts so that we can love one another as he loves us. Then they will know that he has truly risen.
By: Fr. Robert Keller, O.P.
The gospel today ends at a strange place: two disciples standing inside an empty tomb! What does that tell us about Easter Sunday?
Stand inside tombs…tombs of broken dreams, betrayal, emotional numbness, and wonder why these tombs are not enclosed with the stone of despair.
Christ has conquered death this day…and those who dare to enter the tomb and see the empty wrappings wonder how God could do it, and why God would do it.
Easter begins the journey of a mystery of “Letting God” for those who have discovered that human power is just too limited. After all, we are not the Creator.
Lent promoted us to detract from some activities, to learn the space that fasting, prayer and almsgiving provide. Now that Easter has come, many of us will return to foods and activities that were part of our Lenten fast. But, let us not return to “business as usual” in our lives. That is, let the Spirit have permanent access to the “space” that Lent opened up in our souls and our psyche in order to divest ourselves of false dreams and attitudes. Then, we will remain incredulous this Easter day—that most strange mixture of doubt, wonder, and joy. Such is an “empty” tomb! God is still at work…resurrecting.
The Resurrection of the Lord
The Mass of Easter Sunday
Reading 1ACTS 10:34A, 37-43
“You know what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.
We are witnesses of all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Reading 2 COL 3:1-4
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.
Or 1 COR 5:6B-8
Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast,
so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,
inasmuch as you are unleavened.
For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Sequence – Victimæ Paschali Laudes
Christians, to the Paschal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he goes before you.”
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Gospel JN 20:1-9
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.