Easter Homily

posted 5 Apr 2021, 03:03 by Parish Office

Homily for Easter 2021 (3 & 4/4/21)

On Good Friday we entered into the mystery of the Lord’s Death on the Cross. We recalled the horrors that He had to undergo and how much He suffered for us all. Tonight/today we enter into the celebration of the Resurrection, and re-live its glory, awe and wonder. Christ is Risen! Alleluia! As St Paul puts it, “Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more” (Rom 6:8-9) and neither should death and sin have any power over us.

In St Mark’s Gospel, the women go fearfully to the tomb. They meet a young man in white. He tells them not only that Our Lord is risen, but has a message for them to pass onto the disciples and to Peter: “He is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him, just as he told you”. In other words, the show goes on! Christ is unstoppable. He is risen from the dead and now He will meet you all again in Galilee. Be there to await your next instructions from Jesus Himself.

In the Gospel of St John, it says that later on, Peter and John go to the tomb and find it empty, with the burial cloths on the ground and the face cloth rolled up in a place by itself. “Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:9). But from now on, it’s all going to make sense.

Before, when Our Lord tried to warn and explain to them that the Son of Man was to die and rise from the dead, they were afraid to ask what “rising from the dead” was all about. But now, they are going to find out. Christ is going to gather them all together again, remind them of all He taught them, and then send them out all over the known world as witnesses to Him. St Paul, after he converts, will be able to say, if you don’t believe me, ask all the others that have seen Him: “he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died” (1 Cor 15:6). Through His Church, Christ will be unstoppable. The Romans will try to execute them, but even that won’t work. It didn’t stop Christ. Tertullian, who lived in the second and third centuries, was to write that "We spring up in greater numbers the more we are mown down by you: the blood of the Christians is the seed of a new life”, i.e. martyrdom only helps the Church to flourish. To this day, Christianity is the world’s biggest faith at roughly 2.4 billion people, putting Islam in second place. And within Christianity itself, Catholicism is the biggest denomination.

But the power of Christ’s Resurrection isn’t just about making converts. It’s about conversion of life. In 1 Corinthians, St Paul makes a comparison with bread. When bread is baked for the Passover, it is supposed to be unleavened. Back in the first century, you couldn’t go and buy a pack of yeast from the supermarket, so when you made bread, you kept a bit of the dough behind for the next batch to leaven it. When you make unleavened bread, you use entirely fresh dough, so that there will be no yeast in it and it won’t rise. He says, “so get rid of all the old yeast, and make yourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened as you are meant to be” (1 Cor 5:7). St Gregory of Nyssa, writing in the fourth century, says that all this means that, “no remainder of sin should be mixed with our new life, but that we should make a completely new start in life by a real conversion, by cutting off the perpetual procession of sin” (See From Glory to Glory). The point is that we need Christ’s resurrected life to shine through the whole of us. But instead we can be like trying to clean out a tea-stained mug, where we manage to clean most of it, but getting into the corners requires a lot more effort. In the same way, we want God’s grace, through the sacraments, to get into all the corners of our lives too. The experience of the saints shows that it is possible. But Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Tonight/today we glory in the Resurrection of the Lord. Christ cannot be stopped, no matter what people try to do to Him or to His Church. And in our own lives too, the message is clear: let His glory shine in you!