Archbishop Harris’ Gospel Reflection March 30 – Easter Vigil (C)

by Archbishop Joseph Harris

by Archbishop Joseph Harris

Gospel: Lk 24:1-12

At daybreak on the first day of the week the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.” And they remembered his words. Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense  and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.

Homily

Tonight my dear friends we have come to the third and culminating point of this the solemnity of the Passion death and Resurrection of the Lord. We remembered and celebrated all the happenings in the life of Jesus from Holy Thursday to this moment. We meditated on them and now we have arrived at this the high point of Jesus’ journey and the high point of the journey of humanity. All that Jesus did and said finds its culmination in this night. It is this night which breaks open for us the meaning of life. It is this night which sealed the destiny of all humanity. Our acceptance or rejection of all that happened this night seals our eternal destiny.

This night began with the lighting of the New fire, and with that New Fire the Paschal Candle. It is here that newness begins.  We then heard in the seven lessons of the Old Testament  read for us, the history of salvation. We came to understand that God in his tremendous love for humanity and for each individual, after the sin of our first parents, was always saving humanity and always calling humanity away from disobedience which always leads to death, to a life of peace justice and harmony.

The gospel Reading which we have just heard, taken from the Gospel according to Luke tells us of the finding of the empty tomb by the women who had gone to finish the preparations for burial which they had not been able to complete on the evening of Good Friday. They find the stone rolled away and the Body of Jesus missing. Two men appear to them and tell them something at once self-evident and perplexing; “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised.”

One does not look for life where there is only death. The women are reminded by the two men of what Jesus had said to them; “Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.” And they remembered his words.

These women had seen Jesus crucified. They had been there when he was taken down from the cross and placed in his mother’s arms. They had accompanied him to the tomb. If he was now alive, this was now New Life, a type and style of life which conquers death.

The women had seen all that had led to Jesus’ crucifixion and death; the hatred of the High Priests, the scribes and Pharisees, their jealousy because they had lost their power over the people; the lack of conviction of Pilate. They had seen the fickleness of the crowd who had let their opinion of Jesus be swayed by the opinion makers of the time.  If Jesus was alive all of the above had been conquered. Those who hated him and sought his death had failed.

The women also saw a person, a man who remained faithful, who refused to be broken, even when it seemed that the One he loved most had abandoned him. Jesus conquered all and remained faithful to the Father. The reward for that fidelity was/is Resurrection or New Life, Life which cannot be conquered by the hatred and machinations of men.

The celebration tonight my dear friends puts before us Life or death. We have all experienced moments hatred and betrayal; we have all experienced jealousy and intrigue, at times at the hands of family members, at times even within the church community. At times we have been the perpetrators, at times we have been at the receiving end. That my friends is the old life which could not conquer and does not conquer. It may appear to win but in the long run always loses.

In baptism, confirmation and Eucharist my dear friends we chose Life, New Life.  We commit ourselves to living the opposite of hatred, betrayal, jealousy and intrigue. We commit ourselves to the New Life of Love which characterized the Life of Jesus and characterizes the lives of disciples of Jesus Christ. Like Jesus, we too will be tempted, we too will be laughed at, our options especially the option for the poor will be ridiculed; We will be tempted to retaliate in kind, we will be urged to do them before they do us but like Jesus we too can remain faithful and live the New Life of Love to which we have committed ourselves through baptism and confirmation. We will be faithful because Christ lives in Us. In Holy Communion Christ lives in us; Christ  who conquered hatred and jealousy and intrigue and betrayal and death, that Christ lives in us to accompany and strengthen and enlighten us even in the darkest moments. In a few moments we will pronounce our baptismal promises or we will renew them. As we pronounce them let us do so with great faith and conviction, certain that God who is true to his promises will give us the victory and strengthen in us the New Life to which we commit ourselves.

My  dear friends I know that we are called to make the leap of faith, to believe that in fidelity to the New Life. The Life of love we will find the happiness which we seek. This however is the lesson of the lives of the Saints; saints like St. Francis, Therese of Lisieux, St. Michael and St. Elizabeth. It is also  the story of the not so famous saints, our parents and grand-parents, Godparents and teachers who lived faithful lives and showed us that it is possible to be faithful after the manner of Jesus himself. My friends, today more than ever, our Church needs the witness of New Life; our country needs the witness of New Life.  Let us together dedicate ourselves to conquering the Old Life, of hatred and betrayal, of jealousy and intrigue so evident in our land by the New Life of honesty, integrity and Love. My dear friends let us choose LIFE.

Prayer

All powerful and ever-loving God, you raised your son Jesus from death to Life and bid us to follow him in his dedication to truth and Love. Be with us your people as we renew the commitments we made at baptism and confirmation so that we may be a force for Good in our land. We ask this through the intercession of Mary, our mother and Jesus, the Resurrected One. Amen

 

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