Where did you put Jesus: A homily for Easter Sunday (Year C)

easterHappy Easter!  I know many of you are visiting from out of town. Some of you, the Lord tugged your heart and brought you here today for the first time in a while. To all, I say, welcome home.  We’re delighted that you are here, to celebrate that moment that changed the world and our lives forever.

This past week is one of the busiest weeks of the year for us church people.We’ve had priest gatherings, school and parish Holy Week services, a procession around Indy. We’ve worked with preparing our 46 new Catholics who entered the church last night. Then there was decorating and practicing and of course the praying. It’s been a whirlwind.  There was a lot to get done, and it didn’t help that a whole day was spent looking for Msgr’s phone.  That endeavor became priority number one on Wednesday. You should see what happens when the boss loses his phone.  It was kind of like Armageddon.  Finally, 36 hours later, I found it by accident at 1am. I put it on his car hood, and he said, I knew I looked there. I toyed with sneaking into his room in order to plug it in like it had always been there, but I wanted to keep my job.

It’s interesting, how crazy life gets when we lose something important to us, something we depend upon. Now I think a lot of us have lost something far more important than our telephone (hard to imagine such a thing exists), something we need and depend upon much more than our texts and tweets.  We have all, in a way, lost the Lord.

Today’s first reading and Gospel take us back to the moment when humanity thought that it had lost the Lord forever. In our Gospel today, we see Mary Magdala frantically searching for Jesus. She thought she and the world had lost him for good. She is running around looking for him, and she finally cries out, “Where did you put him?”  You can hear her desperation. In the first reading, the early disciples ask the first pope, Peter, the same question, and Peter says, “You put him on a tree, remember? That’s where you put him.” And humanity thought it was over, that its Good Friday mistake could not be corrected, that God was dead.

Now that question–where did you put Jesus–it is the same question that God is asking us now.  I guess it stood out to me in our texts today because a young boy asked me the same question at Christmas. The Christmas Mass begins with an empty crib, and the priest is supposed to bring in the baby Jesus. A boy was rather upset before Mass about the empty crib. He came up and said, “Fr. Mike, where did you put Jesus?”  I told him not to worry, that I would carry him up at Mass. Then things got busy and Mass started. I forgot Jesus. Epic fail.

But here’s the good news: Easter is a reminder that Jesus always turns up again in our lives, that he rises.  Even when we put him where he doesn’t belong–on a cross, in a tomb, on the curb, out of our minds, at the end of our priority lists…even when we TRY to put him outside of our homes, our relationships, our schools, our workplaces–no matter where we have put Jesus in the past, now he asks for one simple thing. He asks for a place in our hearts NOW.  He asks that of everyone here.  Will you give it to him?

Folks, it’s worth it. St. Paul tells us today to seek the Lord always. Jesus says the same: Seek first the kingdom, he says, and everything else will fall into place, will be given to you. I’m here to tell you that life is better with our Risen Christ.  Let’s live our lives so that, when we pass to the next life, and St Peter asks us, “Where did you put Jesus?” we can say, Jesus is my everything. I put him in the middle of my heart, I put him into my body at every Eucharist, I put him into my family and marriage. I put him into my kids, into my grandkids. I put him into my schedule, into my Sundays. I put him at the center.

So let us renew now our faith in him, and then put our Risen and Eucharistic Christ where he belongs: inside of us.