God loves us back to life | Easter Homily by Fr. Michael Newman, OSFS


The empty tomb. Artist unknown.

Acts 20:34a, 37-43; John 20:1-9

Good morning and Happy Easter! We celebrate today the Resurrection – the empty tomb that is sitting behind here. Jesus alive and present in our life or, as one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury says:

“Christ is not dead/nor does God sleep/while waking Man/God does striding in the Deep./To birth ourselves anew/And love rebirth/From fear of straying long/ on outworn Earth./One harvest in, we broadcast seed for further reaping./Thus ending Death/and Night/and Time’s demise/And senseless weeping.”1

In other words, “resurrection” as we celebrate it today in Easter is about God doing something new. We see this in our Gospel today when the disciples and Mary Magdalene get to this empty tomb and have no idea what’s going on. We see it in the first reading when St. Peter professes his faith in the resurrected Christ and how Jesus was resurrected by the Father’s love. Because, at it’s heart that’s what resurrection is. It’s about God loving us back to life. And this didn’t just happen once 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. It continues to happen today.

Earlier this week, when trying to write this homily, I took a break and looked at my Facebook newsfeed. I saw this story by a friend of mine who lives with her husband and 5 year-old daughter in St. Paul, MN.

Kiddo had an out-of-the-blue-meltdown/ “tantrum” when I was tucking her in, screaming me out of her room. It was bizarre. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t take it personally, I just went downstairs to read my book. 15 minutes later she comes down,

“Hey mom, can we talk?”
Her words:
“What happened there? You didn’t do anything wrong, and I yelled at you, and I’m sorry. Can we try again?”

Then she recounted each step of our bedtime ritual, (I think she was looking for her trigger…It’s what we’ve been trying to do after our fights, but she’s never LEAD the reflection-conversation.)
When we got back to the bed to tuck in, she said, “next time I get that mad and use any words like, “stupid” please tell me to, “stop” in your serious voice. And tickle my feet.”
“I love you. Please forgive me for tonight.”

This is resurrection: God doing something new – allowing the daughter to take the lead in this mother-daughter relationship, which then lead to a resolution, to a strengthened relationship, and to a deeper bond of love. In this moment, God loved both of them back to life.

“God keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves…”2

Now “new” isn’t always perfect. Like the Easter story, “new” itself is often messy – there’s an open tomb, grave linens thrown on the floor, people not knowing what is going on. It’s not as serene as some stain- glassed windows would like you to think. For us, new looks like the person who is six days sober and still trying to stay on the wagon. “New looks like reconciliation between family members who don’t actually deserve it. New looks like every time we manage to admit we were wrong and every time we manage not to admit that we were right. New looks like every fresh act of forgiveness and of letting go of all those things we didn’t think we could live without and then somehow living without it anyway. New is the thing we never saw coming – never even hoped for – but ends up being what we needed all along. This is Resurrection – newness in our messiness because God keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves”2 – graves right now of sorrow, doubt, fear, anger, and pain. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over until we can say with St. Peter, Mary Magdalene, and my friends in St. Paul, “I have seen the Lord.”

May God be praised.


Fr. Michael Newman OSFS

Fr. Michael Newman OSFS

Rev. Michael E. Newman is an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales and Director of the Oblate Novices. This homily was delivered at St. Mary of the Good Counsel Church in Adrian, MI. The reference to the Facebook conversation is between Vis Companion Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde and her daughter. We reprint this with permission.


1 Ray Bradbury, “Christus Apollo”
2 Examples adapted from Nadia Boltz-Weber, Pastrix, p. 174.



by Sr. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

A life in abundance! Women's Spring Retreat at St. Jane House

Life in abundance: Women’s Spring Retreat at St. Jane House

As I was checking out some pics on my digital camera, it occurred to me that we have such a life of abundance here in North Minneapolis…An abundance that spills over into Easter Alleluias!  An abundance that flowers into life giving relationships…an abundance that reaches across town to bring folks together that might not every meet!  Enjoy a few photos of some of our springtime activities.

 I thank Melissa for sharing this collage of pictures with you that includes:

  • Our St. Patrick’s Day celebration with our Nigerian Sisters who work tirelessly at Sharing and Caring Hands. (Did you know that St. Patrick is the patron of Nigeria?!;
  • A 20 year old tradition that originated at St. Thomas Church in  Eagan in which our families meet their families, pray together, share wonderful family Easter baskets filled with household good , and yes some goodies!;
  • Neighborhood helpers putting labels on our newsletter;
  • Our Women’s overnight retreat at the St. Jane House;
  • Children earning camperships to Catholic Youth Camp by participating in the neighborhood clean-up; And….
  • Easter Sunday visitors who received a bag of bunny treats, and a whole box of Girl Scout cookies, thanks for Soledad whose family donated boxes and boxes of these delicious treats.  Can you imagine a child trying to choose his/her favorite cookie?!
  • Finally, the Eucharistic altar where it all begins!!!!!

Our extended community reaches far and wide.  Thanks you for making our life so abundant…

To see snapshots from these Spring Photos, click here.

Christ: Crucified, Dead, Risen — and Eating Fish

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

“The Appearance to the Apostles” by Duccio di Buoninsegna ca. 1255 – 1319

I got caught up today by a dead-and-resurrected-Jesus eating fish.

Sitting on my front porch, candle lit, scripture out, my prayer time came to a sort of abrupt halt reading these words from Luke’s Gospel that describe Jesus showing up after his crucifixion and Easter miracle, and dining on real food.

“Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”

And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

–Luke 24: 38-43

Christ is both dead and alive. Both. And. His flesh and bones — heart, mind, and spirit – carry the story of his betrayal, convey the reality of his death — and simultaneously reveal a pulsating, vibrant life. He is a back-from-the-dead hungry and loving human.*

I don’t stop often to contemplate Jesus, the “Risen One,” as Jesus “the guy with holes in his feet, hands and side.” I don’t. I’m easily comforted by the mystery of the resurrection simply being: Jesus as ethereal spirit floating and appearing and loving us all through this vast universe. It’s not a literal, physical rising from the dead that I dwell on or imagine very often.

“While he still bears the marks of crucifixion, he also breathes. And it is that breathe, that new life that triumphs and offers us a transformed perspective of our own living.”

Enter: Luke, chapter 24, versus 38-43.

The invitation to see Christ as the apostles did – whole and manifest in the room, is an urgent one for me in today’s scripture.

Christ wounded, and Christ rocking it. Jesus, dead; Jesus, thriving. It’s the both-and nature of this mystery of his resurrection, and the literal triumph of life over death, that offers us the compelling invitation to revisit all of our definitions of suffering and not only surviving, but existing as a transformed and reborn being.

If the son of God can walk around as not only a deeply hurt human, but both dead and living person — and still offer radical love, hospitality, peace and forgiveness, then what are the implications for me? For all of us?

Our comprehension and definition of Christ doesn’t end in the suffering. Ever. While he still bears the marks of crucifixion, he also breathes. And it is that breathe, that new life that triumphs and offers us a transformed perspective of our own living. We are not the sum of our depressed states, anxieties, addictions, or failures. That bankruptcy, alcohol or drug addiction, infidelity, is not the whole of who we are if we subscribe to this gospel narrative. While those experiences and actualities may mark our beings like the wounds in Jesus’ feet, so too then is the beating heart and oxygen that fills our lungs and defines the larger aspect of our life alongside the resurrected Christ.

We are both/ and, too. Wounded. Restored. And it is our living, our hunger, our presence and love that truly define us.

Fish, anyone?


For more on this, read James Allison’s “Knowing Jesus.”

Easter Vigil

Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna

Easter Vigil

Easter Vigil

As the sun sets tonight we enter a most sacred time. A time that is punctuated by the darkness of dusk to the early rays of dawn. In these short twelve hours our salvation will be transformed from death to a resurrection.

How can we be vigilant during this time?

Being vigilant means a time of purposeful sleeplessness, a close watch, a period of observation.What are you being vigilant of in your own life? What is Christ asking of you to watch closely? to observe? to stay awake for? When we wait, it is not a passive action, quite contrary it is very active. We wait with hope, with our imaginations, with love of what is to come into our lives, even when it might be through a painful experience.

How do we prepare our hearts, our minds, our guts for such intense watchfulness of Christ’s passing from our physical world to being present to us in the spiritual form? It seems to me that Easter Vigil requires a delicate balance of being both part Mary and part Martha–we need both the preparation of doing so that during the



darkest of the night we may just be. My dear friend reminded me the other day to sink into being Mary, to be attentive to what is before me, instead of getting wrapped up in all I wanted to accomplish, the Martha in me. I know these dynamic women can not be summed up so simplistically, but it is good to remind ourselves to hold the tension of being and doing so that we may be vigilant to our lives this Easter season.