EASTER VIGIL 2013 Homily Notes of Archbishop Martin, Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, 30th March 2013
“In this holy night we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection. We rejoice in the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death. We pledge to live our own lives as children of the light of the Risen Lord.
We have listened in the readings to the proclamation of the God’s saving work throughout human history. God remained faithful to his people from generation to generation. At crucial moments in the difficult journeying of God’s people, as that people became irate and unfaithful, God came to their help and despite their infidelity he opened new ways for them on their journey towards freedom and liberation. The entire history of God’s dealings with humankind is one of bringing life and liberation to his people.
In the resurrection of Jesus that liberation reaches a climax; all creation rejoices since sin and death, which most profoundly entrap and imprison us, are overcome in a definitive way through the self-giving sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The joy of the resurrection fills the whole world. Just as at the moment of creation God separated the light from the darkness, through the resurrection life is separated from death, from evil and from sin and a new moment is created in human history.
The Resurrection which we commemorate this evening is therefore not just a distant historical event of the past. For us believers the Resurrection is not something that we explore with the eye of the historian or the archaeologist or the investigative journalist who gathers evidence or documents to discover possibly what an event of the past might have looked like.
We look at the Resurrection from the point of view of faith, a point of view which is no less real. Our faith enables us to realize that the Easter event is the highest and most mysterious event in the whole of human history. And when I speak of human history I am not speaking of past history, but of how history unfolds and will continue to unfold over the generations through God’s interaction with us. The resurrection has opened the way for our fallen humanity to be healed and taken into the life of God. Resurrection is something which is present and effective in our here and now and challenges us to live, a resurrection way of life, a resurrection spirituality. What might that mean?
Easter is the night of life and light, the night on which Jesus rose from the dead to show us that love is stronger than hatred, that love is stronger even than death itself. If we believe in what happened at Easter then we have to let that fact irradiate from every aspect of the fabric of our being. We have to announce it. We have to live it. We have to be alert not to lock ourselves into the contingent and the self-serving, but allow the life and light of the resurrection to be reflected in all that we do and we have purify our conscience and reject and turn away from the works of death and darkness that remain in us.
The message of the Resurrection must give us a passion for life, for truth and for the good. If Christians have a passion for life then they should be in the forefront in the fight for life, at every moment of its existence, and in every dimension of what life means and should mean. The Church and the Christian community must be “Pro-Life” is the fullest sense of that term. We have to defend the right to life and we must at the same time always accompany that defence with a commitment to ensure that all can live their lives with a level of dignity worthy of the Lord of life in whose image they have been created.
Christians must have the courage to be present in society on the side of life and be alongside the most vulnerable and those who are forgotten and who experience precariousness even regarding life’s essentials. Christians should be driving forces for a society based on truth and integrity and honesty and not on corruption. Christians who have accompanied Jesus in his suffering in these days of Holy Week must show a special concern for all those who suffer, ensuring that they receive not just the necessary technical or medical care, but also compassion, which means sharing in their suffering, being alongside them in their suffering.
The Christian community must be a community of welcome for and solidarity with all those who suffer any form of handicap and disadvantage, and those who are troubled or anxious. Christians must be the vanguard in showing what a renewed culture of solidarity and responsibility and care for others means, in the face of a culture of widespread individualism.
Christians should be driving forces for a society which robustly and courageously contests violence. Violence continues to raise its ugly head on our streets. There is nothing more in contrast with this Feast of the Resurrection and with a culture of resurrection than a culture of vendetta and killing. If resurrection liberates, the culture of violence devastates.
Christians should be driving forces for a society in which young people receive not just education and instruction but the reasons for hope. Those who believe in the resurrection must work to overcome scepticism, interior tiredness and resignation, indifference and egoism. We have great young people but our years of prosperity have not left them a legacy of hope. Their hopes are frustrated by the lack of opportunity. Their hopes are frustrated by examples of cynicism and corruption which make them ask if solidarity and a sense of common purpose can really work.
The Resurrection which we commemorate this evening is not just a distant historical event of the past. It is a challenge for today and it opens a path of hope for the future. Through the Resurrection a great energy is released for newness and life is released into the world.
What does that say to the Church and about the Church? A tired and disillusioned Church will never produce great energies of newness and life. Newness and life will not come out of a Church which still wants to look on itself as an institution of power, even a renewed institution, or from a Church which is simply a focal point of organised doing good or social reform.
The Church today has to witness more concretely to the message of Jesus. It has to witness to meaning in a world which many find meaningless and in which many are tempted to live their lives without searching for its meaning. The Church has to be re-structured and de-structured to allow it to witness to the sense of meaning and purpose that Jesus brings to the lives of believers. We have to help people discover in Jesus Christ what their life is really about and offer a hope that sustains. We can only do that through witness, through what our own lives say to others. We can only do this by renewal in our lives.
The energy to do this comes from above. God will be faithful to his Church in our day as he has been to his people throughout history. We have to live in such a way that the energy of life and vitality which spring from Jesus resurrection can really touch our hearts and change our Church.
Through the Resurrection, death is conquered; we are set free to live with new hope. That is the message we celebrate here this evening; that is the message which is being celebrated in our Church and by Christians across the world as they in the most varied situations joyfully proclaim the good news: “Christ is truly Risen” ENDS