Homily for Easter Sunday 2024

Readings: Acts 10:34, 37-43;  Col 3:1-4; John 20:1-9

 Theme: ‘Christ has turned all our sunsets into dawns’ (St Clement of Alexandria)

 We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song.  The Easter liturgy makes it clear that the centre piece of the great drama of salvation is the passage of Christ from death to new life. In Christ not only is death defeated but even our fallen condition has become no longer a curse but a cause of rejoicing. Because of Christ’s resurrection we can shout triumphantly in the words of the Exsultet: ‘O happy fault that brought us so glorious a Redeemer’.

In the first reading of today’s Eucharist, Peter states that Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead was the direct action of God: ‘God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen’ (Acts 10:38). The Resurrection is God the Father’s response to the Cross. It is the Father’s affirmation of everything that Jesus preached and did, everything for which he lived and died. It is the definitive answer of the Father to a world that sought to silence Jesus forever, the supreme manifestation of the power of God’s Love – a love that is stronger than death, or hatred, or injustice.    And it is the final word between God and humanity in the dialogue of salvation: the great Amen of God, not just to humanity, but to all creation.

The gospel reading from John recounts the disciples’ discovery of the empty tomb. The story begins in the dark with Mary Magdalene’s visiting the tomb of Jesus ‘very early in the morning (Jn 20:1). When she reaches the tomb, she sees that the stone covering the entrance had been rolled away. She interprets this to mean that the body of Jesus must have been stolen: ‘They have taken the Master out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have put him’ (Jn 20:2).  She runs off to relate her disturbing discovery to Peter and John, who immediately run to the tomb. John, being the faster runner, gets there first. Looking into the tomb, he sees the linen cloths that had wrapped the body of Jesus lying here. He then waits for Peter who goes into the tomb ahead of him and sees exactly what John had seen. The climax of the story comes when John, the beloved disciple, in contrast to Peter, who is simply perplexed, realises the significance of the discarded linen wrappings and knows that Jesus has truly risen from the dead: ‘He saw and he believed’ (Jn 20:8).  In the words of Denis McBride, CSSR, ‘his is a love that sees through the dark’.


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Our second reading from St Paul’s Letter to the Colossians reminds us of what Jesus’ resurrection means for us, his disciples. By our baptism we have died with Christ and have come to share in his new, risen life.  Easter challenges to commit our lives more fully to our risen Lord who has conquered the powers of darkness and ‘turned all our sunsets into dawns’ (St Clement of Alexandria).  Hence, ‘we must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand’ (Col 3:1). We must live as people possessed the an unquenchable hope of Easter. In the words of Pope Francis ‘Jesus is a specialist at turning our deaths into life, our mourning into dancing. With him, we too can experience a Pasch, that is, a Passover from self-centredness to communion, from desolation to consolation, from fear to confidence. Let us not keep our faces bowed to the ground in fear, but raise our eyes to the risen Jesus. His gaze fills us with hope, for it tells us that we are loved unfailingly, and that however much we make a mess of things, his love remains unchanged. This is the one, non-negotiable certitude we have in life: his love does not change. Let us ask ourselves: In my life, where am I looking? Am I gazing at graveyards, or looking for the Living One?

On this Easter Sunday morning, let us rejoice and are glad because Christ our   Lord is Risen. Death, and all that is negative within ourselves and in our world, has no longer any power over him. And with him we too are victorious, for now nothing can come between us and the love of God made manifest in Christ – manifested supremely in his glorious resurrection from the dead. I will end with  an Easter poem by the English poet, Malcolm Guide.

 As though some heavy stone were rolled away,
You find an open door where all was closed,
Wide as an empty tomb on Easter Day

 Lost in your own dark wood, alone, astray,
You pause, as though some secret were disclosed,
As though some heavy stone were rolled away. 

You glimpse the sky above you, wan and grey,
Wide through these shadowed branches interposed,
Wide as an empty tomb on Easter Day.

 Perhaps there’s light enough to find your way,
For now the tangled wood feels less enclosed,
As though some heavy stone were rolled away.

 You lift your feet out of the miry clay
And seek the light in which you once reposed,
Wide as an empty tomb on Easter Day.

 And then Love calls your name, you hear Him say:
The way is open, death has been deposed,
As though some heavy stone were rolled away,
And you are free at last on Easter Day.

I wish each and every one of you a blessed, peaceful and joy-filled Easter!

Michael McCabe SMA

Click on the play button below to listen to an alternative homily from Fr Tom Casey SMA.

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