Easter Sunday

posted 19 Apr 2020, 10:04 by Parish Priest
Homily for the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday (11 & 12/4/20)

Tonight/This morning, we celebrate the most important of all the feasts in the Church. Christmas is important, but Easter is even more important. And it’s also reflected in the way we celebrate Easter. I’m not talking about Easter eggs, but the fact that Easter is just so mind-blowingly amazing that we can’t possibly fit all our alleluias into a single day, so the celebration of Easter spills over for fifty days, leading up to Pentecost. Lent is forty days, Easter is fifty. It would be wrong for Lent to be longer than the celebration of Easter. And even after that, when we return back to the green vestments of Ordinary Time, Easter still hasn’t gone away. Each Sunday is a mini celebration of Easter, no matter what time of year.

So what we celebrate now, should spill over into the rest of the season and into all the Sundays of the year. What is Easter about? Some of the answers we can come up with include joy, hope, fulfilment of Christ’s promises, knowing that He truly is Who He said He is, deliverance from Satan, sin, evil and death. This is what we celebrate, and more. Each Sunday is, or should be, a mini-celebration of Easter. A day to focus on God and to rest from unnecessary work. A day for helping those in need.

Some have said that the present lock-down is a bit like a long Holy Saturday, when Christ’s body lay in the tomb. But another way is to see it as a long Sunday. Back in 1994, the previous Sunday trading laws were overturned, and Sunday became almost like any other day, overturning the restrictions of the previous 1950 Shops Act. With the spread of Coronavirus, once again the Government has decided what is essential and what is not, what is allowed to open and what is not. At the very end of 2 Chronicles, after a succession of kings and the nation had abandoned the Lord and ridiculed the prophets, the nation was invaded by the Chaldaeans, people were put to the sword, the Temple was invaded, looted and burned, and the survivors were deported to Babylon. Then comes the crunch. It says:

“This is how the word of the Lord was fulfilled through the prophet Jeremiah, ‘Until this land has enjoyed its sabbath rest, until seventy years have gone by, it will keep sabbath throughout the days of its desolation’.” (2 Chron 36:21).

I don’t think that we will be in lock-down for seventy years. But as a nation, we have also rejected God for the most part and trampled over the idea of Sunday as something holy and separate from the rest of the week.

So, why rest on a Sunday? On the one hand, it’s because the Ten Commandments say to keep the Sabbath holy. God made the world in six days, and on the seventh He rested. But now, on the eighth day, Easter Sunday, He re-created the world. We made a mess of it, and now He has put things right. Surely, for that, we have to be grateful. That is why the Church, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, moved the idea of Sabbath rest from Saturday to Sunday. Sunday is the first day of the week, but also the eighth day, a day outside of time, and also the first day of the new creation.

Secondly, we need a day to stop worrying and worship God, and to realise that work is not a god, we are not all-sufficient and all-powerful, and for the people who believed that they were, COVID-19 has rather left their faith in tatters! Without God, we are nothing. But with God, we can have everything. He has given us this world to look after, care for and enjoy, and now we have the option of heaven and life everlasting after this one. Sometimes we can get so lost in this world that we forget that there is another one to come, and we forget the real reason why we are here. After the Death of Christ, the Eleven had been rather shaken and knocked back. But when they were told that Christ had risen, they had to go and find out for themselves. In John’s Gospel, Peter and John don’t say, “Oh, I’ll get round to it later on”. They ran to the tomb. Peter and John seem to be having a race, with John being the youngest, getting there first. But out of deference to Peter, he lets him go in first and investigate. “Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (Jn 20:9). Then, everything began to change.

The Resurrection changes everything. Now our lives are different – they cannot remain the same. But lest we forget, we have the Easter season, and every Sunday, to remember what a wonderful God we serve.