A very happy Easter to you on this greatest of all Feasts: the day of the Lord’s Resurrection, when the holy women went to the tomb to anoint JESUS’ body, but found the stone already rolled back. As they entered the tomb there was an Angel seated there, who, showing them the place where His body had been laid told them that He who was crucified is now risen, and that they should go and tell Peter and the disciples the good news, and that soon they would meet Him in Galilee, just as He had said (Mark16:1-7).
Fr David, Fr Simon and myself celebrated a simple but very beautiful Easter Vigil last night in the church. It was surreal we were doing it in an apparently empty church. I say ‘apparently’ because the angels and saints are there at every Mass wherever it is celebrated, and you too were all there in a mystical way. I offered Mass for the end of the pandemic as well as remembering all your intentions. There was no Easter Fire but we had the other ceremonies with the Paschal Candle and procession into the dark church. As is customary at the Vigil, we renewed our Baptismal Promises, and to the question, “Do you believe in JESUS Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father” we answered a resounding, “Yes, I do believe!” This is our faith. Christ is truly risen. He is alive and He is with us now, even in this crisis.
The cross is Christ’s victory over death and sin, so we always have reason to hope. God never abandons us. Even if the world sees only doom and gloom, we know that JESUS gives life and we know what our destiny is if we are faithful. When Our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead, it was a foreshadowing of the eternal life He wants to give to us all. “I am the resurrection and the life” He said to Martha. “He who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25).
This is a very difficult time we are living through. We couldn’t have imagined this even a few weeks ago, but we persevere and we must keep going. Pope Francis said in his homily last night in Rome, “Dear sister, dear brother, even if in your heart you have buried hope, do not give up: God is greater. Darkness and death do not have the last word. Be strong, for with God nothing is lost!”
So we stand with the holy women at the empty tomb – empty not because someone has stolen the body, but because He is alive. “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18). And so we go forward with hope and trust knowing that the risen Christ is always with us.
The Pope concluded by saying, “Those women, in the end, “took hold” of JESUS’ feet (Mt 28:9); feet that had travelled so far to meet us, to the point of entering and emerging from the tomb. The women embraced the feet that had trampled death and opened the way of hope. Today, as pilgrims in search of hope, we cling to You, Risen JESUS. We turn our backs on death and open our hearts to You, for You are Life itself.”
May God bless you all and your families.