Homily for the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, 16 & 17/4/22

posted 19 Apr 2022, 01:53 by Parish Office

I always like the drama of the celebration of Easter. In St Luke’s account, the women go to the tomb, find the stone has been rolled away and the body missing. As they stand there not knowing what to think, they are told, with a note of triumph: “Why look among the dead for someone who is alive?” They go back to tell the Eleven. In St John’s Gospel, after Peter and John visit the tomb, it says, “till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead”. On Easter Sunday, the psalm after the first reading says, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”. This is seen as prophetic of Christ, who was completely rejected by the religious authorities at the time, but was raised to new life, and He is now the cornerstone on which the whole Church is founded.

The significance of a cornerstone is that it is first stone that is set when building a new construction, and the whole alignment of the building is made in reference to it. So, in other words, Christ is the reference point for the whole building. And just think how stupid it would be for the builders to throw the cornerstone away, and then try to build without it. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”. In another translation, it says, “It was the stone rejected by the builders that proved to be the keystone”. So now I need to explain to you what a keystone is.

A keystone is the top stone of an arch, where an arch is made up of different wedge-shaped stones. The top one, the keystone, is the one that keeps all the other ones together and balances them so that they don’t fall over. Remove the keystone, and the arch fails.

So the Resurrection of Christ means that our lives have to be built on Him and He has to be the One that keeps us together, keeps us in balance and is our reference point for the whole of our lives. With Him, we are strong; without Him, we are weak and doomed to failure. So many churches have been built in honour of Him, and as the Church we need to be a living building, showing what God is capable of in ordinary peoples’ lives. Through Christ, we are set free; in the Acts of the Apostles, St Peter tells everyone, “all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name”. Everything has changed because of Christ’s Resurrection, and there’s no turning back. He is literally unstoppable.

But that power and that joy are still to be fully implemented. Christ rose, but no-one was there, inside the tomb, to see it happen. When the women went to the tomb in the early morning, before the sun rose, they saw what had happened and suspected the worst. The Eleven also struggled to come to terms with it, suspecting the worst as well. Christ was already risen, but they were probably getting annoyed and depressed. Later, Christ appears to people over a whole succession of events. He upbraids the Eleven for their unbelief. He says to Thomas, “be no longer unbelieving, but believing”. The disciples on the road to Emmaus are depressed, defeated and feeling like they have been beaten. Our Lord has to first jolt them into belief (“You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?”) Then he had to go through the scriptures, and make it obvious to them that it had all been predicted long ago.

This weekend, we have new life in our parish, with Ernest becoming a Catholic and being confirmed at the Easter Vigil, and Atipaishe being baptised at the 11 am Easter Sunday Mass. This too is a cause for rejoicing, just like the Resurrection of Christ. And just like us, they will discover more deeply, day by day, what it means to follow the Lord. At times is it a call to conversion; at other times it is a journey of amazement at the wonders of the Lord. It is always great to see new people joining us and together with us, following Christ, the cornerstone and keystone, the One who gives all our lives meaning. Please keep them and their families in your prayers, today and especially throughout the Easter season; I am sure that they will also pray for you.