Vigil of Easter Homily 2019

Vigil of Easter
Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bendigo
April 20, 2019

2 Sam 7:4-16; Luke 2:41-51

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ: We have lived together through these beautiful days of mystery and redemption, all the days of Lent leading us to Jerusalem — to the Last Supper and all the events of Our Lord’s Passion, and now to his Resurrection. So, the first thing I want to say is: Happy Easter to you and your families and especially to the those to be baptized at Easter.

You are in our prayers in a special way this evening, as we celebrate this beautiful liturgical ceremony of the Easter Vigil. As you receive the Sacraments and become part of our family, let us all ask for the grace and the strength to begin again. To begin once more to live the new life that God offers us — that Jesus offers us by his Resurrection.

Like those holy women who discovered the empty tomb, like those first apostles — we are called in our own time to be witnesses to his Resurrection; witnesses to the power of his mercy in our lives.

That means we need to be more forgiving, more understanding of the weaknesses of others. Let us reach out to people who feel forgotten in our society; people who feel excluded and lonely and poor. Let us show everyone the compassion that God has shown to us.

This is what Easter teaches us. We walk in this world now, as a people who know that God is alive. He is risen! Let us ask him to enlighten us, so that we can see the world with his eyes; to strengthen us so that we can love as he loved.

Today, with them, we are invited to contemplate the empty tomb and to hear the words of the angel: Do not be afraid… for he has risen!  Those words should affect our deepest convictions and certainties, the ways we judge and deal with the events of our daily lives, especially the ways we relate to others.  The empty tomb should challenge us and rally our spirits.  It should make us think, but above all it should encourage us to trust and believe that God “happens” in every situation and every person, and that his light can shine in the least expected and most hidden corners of our lives.  

Jesus rose from the dead, from that place where nobody waits for anything, and now he waits for us – as he did the women – to enable us to share in his saving work.  On this basis and with this strength, we Christians place our lives and our energy, our intelligence, our affections and our will, at the service of discovering, and above all creating, new paths.

He is not here… he is risen!  This is the message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete gestures of charity.   How greatly we need to let our faith be revived!  How greatly we need our myopic horizons to be challenged and renewed by this message!  Christ is risen, and with him he makes our hope and creativity rise, so that we can face our present problems in the knowledge that we are not alone.

To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our ‘conventions’, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us.

To celebrate Easter is to allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.

The stone before the tomb shared in this, the women of the Gospel shared in this, and now the invitation is addressed once more to you and to me.  An invitation to break out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions and our existence. 

An invitation that must be directed to where we stand, what we are doing and what we are, with the “power ratio” that is ours.  Do we want to share in this message of life or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?

He is not here… he is risen!   And he awaits you in Galilee.  He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love of Jesus and he says to us all: Do not be afraid, follow me. With this assurance and in this hope we say: Christ is risen, Alleluia!