2017-05-07 Homily. Father François Beyrouti. How is your Easter?
Sunday, May 7, 2017. How is your Easter? Homily. Father François Beyrouti.
Sunday of the Paralytic.
Prokimenon (Tone 3) Ps. 46: 7, 2
Sing praise to our God, sing praise! Sing praise to our King, sing praise!
Stichon: All you peoples, clap your hands! Shout to God with cries of gladness!
A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (9:32-42)
In those days it came to pass that Peter, while visiting all of them, came to the saints living at Lydda. And he found there a certain man named Aeneas who had been lying in bed for eight years, since he was a paralytic. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ is healing you: get up and make your bed.” And he got up immediately. And all the inhabitants of Lydda and the plain of Sharon saw him, and they were converted to the Lord. Now in Joppa there was a certain woman disciple named Tabitha, which translated means Dorcas, and she devoted herself to good works and almsgiving. But it happened at that time that she fell ill and died: and they washed her and laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda is close to Joppa, the disciples, hearing Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Come to us without delay.” “And Peter got up and went with them, and on his arrival, they led him to the upper room, and all the widows stood around him weeping, showing him the gowns and cloaks Dorcas used to make for them. But Peter, putting them all out, knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, get up!” And she opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. Then Peter gave her his hand and raised her up, and calling the saints and the widows, he gave her back to them alive. And it became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
Alleluia (Tone 3) Ps.30: 2, 3
In you, O Lord, I have hoped: let me never be put to shame. In your justice, save me and deliver me, lend me your ear and hasten my deliverance.
Stichon: Be for me a protecting God, a sheltering house to save me.
The Holy Gospel according to St. John the Evangelist (5:1-15).
At that time Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem, by the pool of the sheep, a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these were lying a great multitude of the sick, blind, lame, and those with shriveled limbs, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel of the Lord used to come down at certain times into the pool and the water was stirred. And the first to go down into the pool after the stirring of the water was cured of whatever infirmity he had. Now a certain man was there who had been thirty-eight years under his infirmity. When Jesus “saw him lying there, and knew that he had been in this state a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred; for while I am coming another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet and walk.” And at once the man was cured. And he took up his pallet and began to walk. Now that day was a Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; you are not allowed to take up the pallet.” He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your pallet and walk’ “They asked him then, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your pallet and walk?’ “But the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd in the place. Afterwards Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you are cured. Sin no more, lest something worse happen to you. The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.
If I were to ask you “How is your Easter?” You would probably say “Do you mean ‘How was my Easter?’”
It’s too bad that a few days after Easter Sunday, most people feel that Easter is over. This is the same problem that takes place at Christmas. Two days after the day of these great celebrations most people say that Easter and Christmas are over, forgetting that Easter and Christmas are not just days but a season of celebrations.
This is why it is important to keep in touch with the Church’s liturgical year that makes sure we celebrate the major feast days on more than only one day. Long after most people have taken down their decorations we continue to celebrate Christmas for 12 days until the feast of the Theophany, the baptism of Christ.
Our Easter celebrations last even longer, they extend for 40 days from Easter Sunday to the celebration of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven.
In verse three of the opening chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Luke says: “To the apostles Jesus presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
So these 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven were very important for the disciples because Jesus spent time teaching and strengthening them for their important mission into the world.
We are still in the Easter season so “How is your Easter?” is a very good question.
Our initial response could be “we saw our family and friends, we consumed a lot of food, and we ate so much chocolate that we feel like an Easter bunny is still jumping in our stomach.”
The celebration of Easter should focus on much more. The last three Sundays we read different Gospels of Jesus’ resurrection. Today’s readings from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Saint John both focus on healings. Let’s look a little closer at the connection between the two.
In the Gospel, Jesus heals a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. Jesus first asks him “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6). Then the Gospel of John tells us: “Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.’  And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked” (John 5:8-9).
Jesus healed many people during His life, but today’s readings focus not only on Jesus’s power to heal, but the ability of the apostles to also heal and raise people from the dead in His name.
Jesus told his disciples that whoever believes in Him will be able to do greater things than even He was able to do. Jesus says in the Gospel of John “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.  Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;  if you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14).
It is for this reason that today we have readings that focus on healings. The healing ministry of Jesus was not over when He died and rose from the dead, it continued in the early church and healing remains possible today in many ways in our life.
The Acts of the Apostles tells us that Aeneas “had been bedridden for eight years and was paralyzed” (Acts 9:33). This section then continues: “Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.’ And immediately he rose.  And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:34-35).
From Lydda, Peter then goes on to Joppa where a woman disciple named Tabitha had died. The Acts of the Apostles tells us: “Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, rise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.  And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive.  And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:40-42).
These readings remind us that Jesus’s resurrection should have a real effect on our lives. This Easter season needs to be for all of us a time of spiritual renewal and spiritual growth. Last week I mentioned how important it is to especially read the Acts of the Apostles during this time because there we see many stories of how the early followers of Jesus were completely changed after the resurrection.
How our Easter is going will depend on how much of that message we are living.
If you were Aeneas who had been paralyzed for eight years, then suddenly got healed, how would you say your Easter is going?
If you were Tabitha and had died, but then through the prayers of Saint Peter opened your eyes up again, how would you say your Easter is going?
If you were a man paralyzed for 38 years then began to walk again, how would you say your Easter is going?
Easter is never over if we are humble enough to recognize our many weaknesses and allow Jesus to heal us. It is nice to be healed physically, but it is even better to get healed emotionally. Our world also needs healing, not because there are not enough hospitals, but because the love, forgiveness, and sacrifice of Jesus has not fully entered into our lives.
“How is your Easter?” Hopefully it is good, not only because you ate a lot, but because you spent a lot of time with your family.
“How is your Easter?” Hopefully it is good because you prayed for yourself, for your family, and for our world.
“How is your Easter?” Hopefully the resurrection of Christ will continue to remind us to rise from whatever is holding us back from a life of faith that is exciting because it is real in what we do and who we are as new children of the risen Lord.
Father François Beyrouti
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
My cell phone: 714-914-1710
New Holy Cross Church YOUTUBE Clip posted on September 13, 2016: www.youtube.com/HolyCrossMelkite
“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24