Homily and Prayers of the Faithful by L.J. O'Donnell


Dead and Alive again

“Christus Resurrexit, Alleluia! Christ is Risen, Alleluia!” 

The Mass of Easter Day – that is today, is our alleluia.  This Eucharist is our song of praise to the Risen Christ who is our life and whose triumph over death we proclaim to the entire world.  For as the Gospel Acclamation so rightly presents: “Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed; let us celebrate the feast then, in the Lord.”  So let us celebrate, let us shout alleluia.  Let us be an Easter People, for alleluia is our song!  Alleluia!

From today’s Gospel that is of St John, above all, we should try and concentrate mainly on one phrase or sentence coming from the Resurrection Account.  The concluding sentence is the key to the reading: “Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture that he must rise from the dead.”  We can take the words for what they seem to say – they had not understood that Christ would rise.  But John also has another meaning: the disciples did not understand what it would mean for Jesus to rise from the dead.

So what does it mean for us for the Church that Christ is risen?  This is the question, which is posed in the liturgy over the several weeks of Eastertide. The question has many answers and gradually they will unfold during this Easter Season.  The First Reading from St Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, gives us a first answer: we are called to witness with Peter to the resurrection.  For the reading states that “we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection.”  Both the Second Reading and the alternative Second Reading, which we will be read after the Communion Hymn as a form of reflection, tells us we must put away old yeast or earthly things and set our sights on our destiny: heaven!

Hope is an extremely important aspect of the Easter Mysteries.  Perhaps recapping on the Victimae paschali laudes, in our own time during the Easter Period, once may gain a fuller and more complete understanding of Easter: “Christ, my hope, has risen…that Christ is risen from the dead we know.  Victorious King – thy mercy show!”

In last night’s Solemn Liturgies we read a number of Old Testament Readings, from Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Baruch and Ezekiel which expressed Israel’s experiences of God’s continuing concern for creation which will be completed now, by the Lord’s coming and rising from the dead.  St Jerome says something quite effective in conjunction with the liturgy: “novum in vetere latet, vetus in novo patet;” translated we have: “the new is hidden in the old, the old is revealed in the new.”  Substantially, this is the message of Easter.  Easter is not just history from two thousand odd years ago, it is, in fact present tense because every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharistic Celebration of Mass we are celebrating Easter, because we Christians are, as I have said, and I will continue to say: Easter People.  We are Easter People!  In this way, today’s concluding celebration of the Easter Triduum should be the high point of our year.  But, East returns week by week on every Sunday Celebration.  And often this is not considered to be the case.

It always strikes me how people think of Easter as being less important than Christmas.  In fact, the early Church called Christmas the “Christmas Pasch.”  This, therefore implies that it is tied in with the Easter Celebration.  It is also quite interesting to note that the Filipino term for Christmas, I believe is Pasko; we can see from that, the derivation of the word Pasch (Paschal) or the Easter Mysteries.  Perhaps there is an interlinking between the Christmas Narratives and the Resurrection Narratives.  There cannot be one without the other!

Therefore, our Easter Challenge is the same as Mary Magdalene’s: when she saw that the Lord had risen from the tomb she ran to the disciples and told them that, in many words that the Lord had risen!  So too, we must go out today and tell people about Jesus and about what he has done for us.  People may not at first believe in the Easter Mysteries but they should believe in Jesus because he was a man who lived 2000 years ago and there is proof of that in the Scriptures.  That is what we must do: proclaim to the whole world, Christ’s triumph over death!

I’ll conclude now by reading to you an extract from a story entitled ‘Dead and Alive again’ which comes from a children’s book published in the mid 1990s.  And this story gives an easy understanding of what our challenge must be.  It is taken from a child’s perspective, as other people are included.

·        …What they didn’t know, of course, was that they had not got rid of him at all!  Jesus died on the Friday, nothing much happened on Saturday, because that was the resting day and people were not allowed to work.  Then on Sunday, Mary Magdalene said to his friends, Joanna and another Mary, ‘let’s go to Jesus’ grave.  At the very least we could put some flowers on it.’  Joanna was not really sure.  The government did not like Jesus, she had once said, and she believed that they would be guarding his tomb to find out who his friends were.  But the other Mary said, ‘they probably know about us, anyway.  I agree with Mary – we must go and look.’…When they got there the grave was empty.  Then they found someone waiting there who told them that he was alive again.  Well, Joanna and Mary were terrified!  They didn’t know what was going on, but they knew they did not like it.  So they ran off, not telling a single person.  Mary Magdalene stayed.  What was said hadn’t really sunk in, when she saw a gardener.  It was still darkish and she couldn’t see him all too well so she asked him where to find Jesus’ grave.  Familiarly, the gardener said to her, ‘Mary!’  It was Jesus!  He was alive!…Mary asked Jesus what she should do, and he said: ‘Go and find the others…and tell them that I am alive…wherever people are, they’ll find me there…”

“Christus Resurrexit, Alleluia! Christ is Risen, Alleluia!”

 Prayer of the Faithful

Easter Sunday (A,B,C)

Celebrant: We are ‘Easter People,’ and our chant is ‘Alleluia!’  Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ who suffered and died for love of us all; we turn to him with courage. 

Reader:    The Response is 'Hear our Prayer'                              

That all people who follow the values of Christianity may be filled with joy, love, hope and peace as we rejoice on this Easter Day.            

That this Easter may be a new beginning for those who strayed from their beliefs and an enthusiastic witness to the newly baptised and received in the Church.                     

That the Church will continue to proclaim the joys of Easter, that although Christ our Passover was sacrificed, he has now risen from the grave.      

That the sick, lonely, poor, and bereaved may experience the joy and hope of the Easter message.

That, as Eastertide begins, so also will peace and justice emerge in the world, especially in the HolyLand.

[In England and Wales:] After his Resurrection, Jesus appeared to Mary and the disciples.  By doing so these humble people grew in faith, knowing he had risen from the dead.  Mary rejoiced – her son had returned as he promised.  Let us pray to Mary: Hail, Mary… 

Celebrant: O God, who, on this day, through you only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, has conquered death, and thrown open to us the gate of everlasting life.  Give effect by your aid to our prayers, which you anticipate and inspire.  Through the same Christ, our Risen Lord.  Amen.