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Here is my Easter Homily from a few weeks back. It references the Stain Glass Windows in my home parish of St. Patrick’s. Click here if you would like to have a closer look at these windows which help to tell our Big Story. 

A family was walking out of church the last time I gave the homily and I overheard their conversation. The father said that that was one of the worst sermons he had ever heard. The mother offered that she thought the singing was just horrible. Their young daughter looked at her parents and said: “well all in all not a bad show for a dollar”.

Easter Sunday is one of the busiest days at churches around the world and I would like to welcome and thank all of you who are visitors to our parish today on this most special of Sundays.

Why do you think there is a bigger than usual crowd here today?

One of the answers is that on this Easter Sunday we remember in a special way our Big Story.

How did you come to know the story we remember here today?

One of the advantages I have in attempting to re-live this account of the life of Christ, thanks to our former pastor the late Fr. Michael Waites and the parishioners who help with the Stain Glass window project, is that the church of St. Patrick’s is a place where the story comes to life through the images that surround us.

You likely know how our story begins. God created the world in six-days and on the seventh day he rested. He created Man and Woman and placed them in the Garden of Eden.

Life is a gift given to them freely with one exception. They are not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When they disobey this command we have what is called the fall, the first and original sin.

The most interesting part about the start to our Big Story are the consequences of the act of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Many scholars and theologians concentrate on the introduction of evil, of sin into the world through this act of disobedience and there is much to be discussed about this theme in the story.Adam and Eve

I find the introduction of suffering into the world to be just as important a theme of the story. When Adam and Eve are confronted by God they learn that they can no longer live in the Garden and from that point forward all of humankind will know pain and suffering.

The rest of our stain glass windows along the central isle tell the stories of these early struggles.

While the tale of Cain and Able is not presented in these pictures it is offered to us as a lesson on the destructive power of jealousy and anger. Cain comes to hate his brother so much that he ends up killing him.

When you view the rest of these windows you see the story of Noah, Abraham, Moses and we conclude with Elijah departing this earth on his fiery chariot.

This is where the story takes a big turn.

Our God so loved the world that he sent us his only Son.

How does God decide to come into our world?

Instead of using Elijah’s glorious chariot to make a big entrance it is decided that Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, would come into the world as one of us, as fully human and fully divine and walk with us.

If you move from this final panel along the centre isle to this side of the church you will see the Annunciation depicted. The Angel Gabriel tells the young girl Mary that she is to conceive a child and that this baby would be born of the Holy Spirit.

The rest of the New Testament story unfolds from there. Jesus is born in a stable, presented at the temple and then Baptized with water and the Holy Spirit.

On the other side of the Church we see His miracles brought to life. Jesus calms the sea, turns water into wine, cures the man born blind and one of his greatest stories or parables- the prodigal son is captured.

Jesus and the ChildrenThe final window depicts the story of Jesus with the little children. In Mark’s Gospel Jesus tells us that unless our faith is like that of these little children we will never be able to enter the kingdom.

Why does he say this?

One reason I think Jesus reminded us about the way little children see things is that they have the ability to take in a Big Story.  They have the willingness to believe things they may not be able to prove beyond a shadow of doubt. In other words they have great faith, especially when they trust the story-teller.

We will all need faith to let the rest of our Big Story impact our lives and great trust in our story-teller who in this case is Jesus.

As I was thinking about this homily and using these pictures as a guide through our story I thought that the builders of the church of St. Patrick’s over the years had forgotten to include one of the most important images – a picture of the Last Supper.

Then it came to me. We have a full 3D image of this most important event right here in our altar.

Just before Jesus was to enter into his Passion and death he gathered the disciples together for one last time to share the Passover meal. When they were at this table he took bread and broke it and gave it to his disciples and said to them; this is my Body. He then took the wine and again blessing it he said, this is my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.

Then he gave one simple command- Do this in remembrance of me.

This part of our Big Story could be the subject of a lifetime of learning.  I just want to include the thought that Jesus left us this gift so that we would know that no matter what happens to us we are never alone if we believe and trust in him.

Why is this important?

Look at the next part of our story as depicted along the back walls of the church in the Stations of the Cross.

From that last supper to his death the next day Jesus will experience

  • Betrayal at the hands of one of his closest friends;
  • He will be abandoned by most of the disciples who had promised to never leave him;
  • He will be falsely accused by those who hate him;
  • He will be humiliated and spat upon;
  • He will have to pick up his heavy cross and carry it;
  • He will accept the help of a complete stranger when he needs it;
  • He will witness the pain in his mother’s eyes as she watches him suffer;
  • AND he will die on that Cross.

Why did Jesus choose this path to enter our lives?

This has been one of, if not the central question of our Christian Faith. Many argue that it comes back to the Story of Adam and Eve right back where we started this journey and the coming of Sin into the world.

I agree, BUT I think there is another very important part to this story.

There would have been many ways God could have reconciled us to himself from this original sin.

God , however, chose to send us his only begotten Son.

Why?

One reason comes from the silent prayer of the priest or deacon at every mass when the chalice is prepared.

“By the mystery of this water and wine we have come to share in the divinity of Christ just as Jesus humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

When Jesus came into the world as one of us he showed us that suffering is a part of the journey. There is no escaping it. Jesus did not get through life without weeping at the death of his friend Lazarus.

Jesus experienced the pain and grief of Mary our beloved Mother as she watched her child suffer and die in the most horrible way.

What makes our story the greatest one ever told is that it does not end at the tomb.

The largest of the stain glass windows is the one behind our altar. It depicts the risen Lord ascending into heaven.

Today on Easter Sunday we gather to remember that we have been given the gift of life everlasting through the resurrection.

My hope for all of you is that you get a chance to really come to know and to live our Big Story.

Jesus came to be with us so that we would know that we are called to live in peace.  If we choose to glorify the Lord by the way we live our lives, which means living this Big Story, then we know that the ending of our story is that one day we will be with him in paradise.

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