During my homily today I will answer three questions.
Question Number One: What did Jesus do after he rose from the dead? That is my first question for today. What did Jesus do after he rose from the dead? The short answer is this: He performed many signs and wonders. He came down from heaven and went to many different places to visit his friends. They did not expect him to return. But he returned many times and each time he performed signs and wonders, and, in each case, they were slow to recognize him.
He began his post-resurrection journey by paying a visit to Mary Magdalene. She was standing in the garden by the tomb on Easter Sunday. She did not recognize him at first. She thought that he was the gardener. She did not recognize him until she heard him say, “Mary.” She did not recognize him until she heard his voice. Later that same day Jesus was walking with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They did not recognize him until they saw him breaking the bread during their evening meal.
One week later Jesus came into the upper room even though the door was locked. He began a conversation with his disciples and Thomas did not recognize him. Thomas had to touch the wounds in his hands and in his side before he could say, “You are my Lord and my God.”
Several weeks later Jesus went to visit his friends when they were fishing on the Sea Galilee. Jesus was standing on the shore and they did not recognize him. But after they caught 153 fish and their net was breaking, they said, “This is a miracle and that man is Jesus.”
From these post resurrection situations, we can draw this conclusion: Jesus performed many signs and wonders after he rose from the dead. He spoke with Mary in the garden and the disciples on the road to Emmaus. He brought about a miraculous catch of fish on the Sea of Galilee. He came into the upper room even though the doors were locked. Jesus performed many signs and wonders and then commissioned his disciples to go forth and do the same.
And that leads me to my second question: What did the disciples do when Jesus challenged them to perform signs and miracles? We saw the answer in today’s First Reading from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. They formed a faith community in which everything was held in common. They shared their possessions in such a way that no one was in need. They were able to get everyone to work together. And that was their post-Resurrection miracle. They were able to get everyone to work together…a miracle that we seldom see these days: the early Christians were sharing everything and working together.
And now it’s time for my third question: What are the signs and wonders that we can perform today?
Build caring relationships. That is the answer given by Pope Francis. Build caring relationships. Caring relationships are the signs and wonders that the world needs today.
We are called to develop caring relationships with children so that those living in their mother’s womb will be protected and school age children will have a place to call home.
We have several thousand children in our state who are homeless at this time. Homeless means that they are sleeping in cars at night and washing up when they get to the bathrooms in their schools in the morning. We are also called to develop caring relationships with our elders so that they will not become isolated from all the activity of our community.
Pope Francis has also challenged us to care for God’s creation by caring for the soil, air and water that God has created for our benefit. We need to have a caring relationship with each element of God’s creation.
Pope Francis has also reminded us that mercy is the central message in the Gospel. God is willing to forgive all those who are sorry for their sins and repent with a sincere heart. He says, “That we should go forth and proclaim the mercy that God feels for all people.”
I will close with a short summary:
1. God is calling us to build caring relationships.
2. God is calling us to care for His creation.
3. God is calling us to proclaim His mercy to the world in which we live.