Mass for the Easter Vigil Year A 2023 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta
“Alleluia. The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes”.
We use these words of the Psalmist to express our joy as we celebrate a truly marvellous event -the centrepiece and foundation of our Christian faith. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead has ushered in the dawn of a new era. Life is no longer a series of unrelated happenings, ruthless, inconsequential and capricious. The paschal rhythm of suffering, death and resurrection resets the whole cosmic cycle. In the wounded risen Christ, love springs eternal, light is inextinguishable, and the divine energy brings all things to unity. There is direction in the movement of history, space, time and evolution with Christ being the Alpha and Omega.
Easter then gives us hope in our endeavour to change the world around us according to the Kingdom vision of Jesus. It gives us the courage to keep reaching, keep working and keep fighting for a better future, a better society, a better world and a better Church. He is with us as we seek to transform lives and relationships. Despite the setbacks we encounter, Easter frames all our endeavours with the horizons of meaning and hope.
The Gospel tonight speaks of the bewilderment and disillusionment of the women disciples as they were confronted with an empty tomb. They had hoped to complete the Jewish ritual of anointing the dead body that was interrupted by the Sabbath. But what happened next was something entirely unexpected. They were told by the angel that the Crucified One had risen and had gone ahead of them to Galilee. Against all expectations, the disciples were invited not to continue with the old pattern but to enter into a new dawn. The resurrection of Jesus has changed everything, and they too must change how they see, live and interact with the world around them.
The Easter story is not primarily about a rescue operation for fallen and hell-bound humanity. Just as Christmas or the Incarnation is not an afterthought, or a Plan B of an angry God wanting to be appeased, Easter is about God’s eternal love breaking through human barriers and empowering us to become all that we are capable to be.
The Incarnation shows God to be a boundary breaker. Jesus abandoned his own status and made himself one of us. This pattern continued in his life, ministry and culminated in his death and resurrection. In so doing, he invited us to step beyond our fears and to rise above our limits. The boundary-breaking spirit of Jesus spurs us on to share God’s life and love to the world, even at the cost of ourselves. It is in this spirit that Pope Francis has called upon the Church to move away from its preoccupation with the status quo, wealth, privilege and security. Instead, we must learn to be a more daring, missionary, humble and servant church.
The Easter story does not end with bewilderment and disillusionment. It tells us that after hearing the message from the angel, the women were filled with awe and joy as they ran to share the news with the other disciples. Along the way, they met the Risen Lord himself who instructed them to meet him in Galilee.
This invitation was not a return to an idyllic place or a romanticised period in the past. Rather, Galilee was emblematic of Jesus’ radical, inclusive and boundary-breaking mission. In the Gospels, it was known as Galilee of the nations. It was where Jesus healed the sick, championed the cause of the oppressed and transformed them. It was where he exercised his messianic deeds for the forgotten, the marginalised and those considered beyond the pale.
Today, more than ever, we as the community of disciples must not stay cocooned in a tomb of familiarity, security and comfort. We must respond with courage to the risen Lord’s urging to minister with him in the new Galilee. We can’t be siloed in a tribal mindset while the world is rich with intercultural and interfaith encounter. Being in Galilee can only mean to be immersed with the coalface realities of today: the plight of the homeless, refugees, people with their diverse gender identities and other vulnerable groups in our community. With the referendum on the Voice, we have an opportunity to reflect on how we can close the gap, learn the ancient wisdom of our First Nations people and build a more hopeful future together for all.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Against the background of hopelessness, suffering and death, the disciples hear the risen Christ’s summons to be part of God’s transformative plan for the world. Let us not be afraid of this challenge as we commit ourselves to following his pattern. The synodal path that we have embarked upon is a concrete collective response to it. May we have the courage in venturing to the new frontiers of solidarity, creating social bonds and fostering common purpose, thus becoming ourselves the leaven of the Gospel. May we be truly Easter men and women bringing to life the Good News in our Church and our world. For Christ is risen and with us. Alleluia.
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