About Me

Bilingual Roman Catholic priest of the Southern Dominican Province. The "homilettes" on this website are completely the work of Fr. Mele. He may be contacted at cmeleop@yahoo.com. Telephone: (415) 279-9234.

Homilette for March 26, 2008

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

(Luke 24:13-35)

Some of us may be disappointed that the gospels do not give a physical description of Jesus. Try as we might, we never find a word about his stature, his complexion, or any distinguishing mannerism, other than that he spoke with authority. Once a journalist wrote that he was short since the Gospel of Luke mentions that Zacchaeus has to climb a tree to see him. However, the more common interpretation of this story is that Zacchaeus is the little guy.

Perhaps since Jesus is so nondescript in the gospels, it should not strike us as altogether peculiar that his disciples do not recognize him at first glance after the resurrection. Both Mary Magdalene in yesterday’s gospel reading from St. John and the two disciples today in Luke’s gospel fail to distinguish Jesus from other people. Until he speaks with his old authority, that is. Then his words go straight to the heart. Mary is lifted out of her fog of grief when he mentions her name. The disciples too achieve insight as he blesses and breaks the bread.

We are used to seeing pictures of a long-haired, blue-eyed, bearded Jesus, but these are surely idealized portraits. Rather than seek his image, we should listen for his words. He calls us by name in Baptism as surely as he calls Mary Magdalene in the graveyard. He pronounces the same blessing over the bread and wine in the Eucharist as he does for the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Like these disciples, we are to tell others of his resurrection. As peculiar as it may sound, we are to say that he meets us at mass. There we hear his words in the gospel and touch his body in the breaking of the bread.

Homilette for March 25, 2008

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

(John 20:11-18)

In its beginning the Gospel according to John states that Jesus empowered all who accept him to become God’s children. Now at the end of the gospel we can see his words come to fulfillment. Jesus tells Mary Magdalene to inform his “brothers” and say that he is going “to my Father and your Father...”

The disciples have believed in Jesus since his turning water into wine at Cana. Now, however, they are being brought to a deeper dimension of faith. They will see Jesus not only with power over death but also with the facility to use death to accomplish his end of drawing others to himself. It is like the Greek rhetorician Demosthenes who, it is said, not only corrected a speech impediment by practicing to speak with stones in his mouth but also used this achievement to secure a place in Athenian politics and world history. Because Jesus’ accomplishment is much more magnificent, St. Paul writes that he never wants to boast of anything except the cross of Jesus Christ.

Death remains fearful in so far as we lack perfect faith. But we are not failures if we fear it. We are only displaying the frailty of our human nature. Just as seven weeks ago we were wondering how we would do without chardonnay or chocolate during Lent, we hesitate to contemplate our death now. But when it is time to enter death as the door to eternal life, we will likely see that it is not the beast that we once dreaded. On the contrary, it will give us passage to a greater happiness than we have ever dreamed.