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Easter Sunday - 5 April 2015 - Fr John's Homilies

Easter Sunday - 5 April 2015
  1. "It was very early on the first day of the week; when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb when Mary of Magdaia came running to Simon Peter ... Peter set out, with the other disciple to go to the tomb .... They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter reached the tomb first.... (2-4).

 

  1. On that first day of the week life flares up again. God has intervened. He has burst open the tomb.

 

  1. There are places where death seems reigns. Injustice seems to have routed the forces of life. People feel powerless to oppose evil. Is discouragement in the presence of the sign of the victory over death compatible with faith in the resurrection of Christ?

 

  1. In earlier times each item in the resurrection accounts was studied like the clues in a detective story with the aim of building an apologetic that would explain the ‘how’ of the resurrection and the ‘what’ of the risen body of Jesus.

 

  1. But the kerygma of the resurrection lies not in the details of ‘the first Easter,’ but in the reality that those who join their lives with the Christ shall share a fuller, glorious, transformed life as the gift of the Father.

 

  1. We can inherit the Father’s gift of glory as the final fulfilment of human life. Many wonder whether or not they ‘can believe’ in the empty tomb, but this misses the point. Belief in the resurrection is seen when someone, even in the face of death, still follows the path of love with the confidence that the Father will ‘not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let his Holy One see corruption’ (Acts 2:27 [Ps 16:10]).

 

  1. Belief in the resurrection is not some Christianised version of a belief in the immortality of the soul. A belief in immortality is a human sense that a bit, some sort of spiritual residue, can survive without a body.

 

  1. The belief in the resurrection is that we are each creatures willed by God, in whose histories God is interested as the loving Father, and into whose history he has sent his Son sharing our humanity, and therefore whose whole existence ‘spirit, soul, and body’ can be transformed to become part of his Son’s glorious body.

 

  1. Easter is not a celebration of a ‘survival factor’ in humanity, but of the Father’s love so that nothing good shall perish, but be given even fuller life.

 

  1. To believe in the message of Easter is not a matter of tombs long ago in Palestine, but having the conviction that it is worthwhile to seek to bring light in darkness, to oppose lies with truth, to work for justice in the face of human corruption, and to say that death does not have the last word.

 

  1. When we profess our faith in the resurrection of Jesus we are not setting out something with the intention that our understandings should grasp it and comprehend it.

 

  1. Jesus has been transformed to a new kind of existence by the Father beyond our understanding and we can only express it in symbols such as that of the empty tomb; tombs, after all, are designed to hold their remains indefinitely.

 

  1. By contrast, the proclamation that Jesus is Risen’ is an invitation to share in a new way of seeing God and the universe, and it is only from within this new vision (faith) that it makes sense.

 

  1. Hence, the ancient theological dictum, based in Isaiah 7:9, ‘unless you believe, you will not understand.’

 

  1. The message of Acts and the gospel is that we are invited to live, to live in a new way, to live in Christ; and that in living in this way we discover in the midst of suffering and death that the Father will raise us as he raised the Christ.

 

  1. If we join with those who accept the invitation to new life in Christ, which is what we say we are doing in accepting baptism commitments to a way of living.

 

  1. The early followers were referred to as being on ‘The Way’ and our oldest extant teaching manual (The Didache) begins by contrasting ‘The Way of Life’ to be followed by disciples with ’The Way of Death.’

 

  1. The resurrection may fill us with joy, but the life-demands that accepting it makes on us can be great: we must do as we would be done to, we must practice the forgiveness we desire from the Father, and we must act with gentleness. Only in constant effort to live life in this way can we glimpse the truth of the empty tomb.

 

  1. To live this life demands patience, a waiting for the good things to be revealed; the practice of the virtue of hope: we must always be of good courage, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

 

  1. Today is our day for rejoicing in the risen Christ, for thanking the Father for his love, and for reminding ourselves of that to which we have committed ourselves: The Way.

 

  1. Death has contended with Life, yet despite tombs and symbols of death all around us, we proceed to commit ourselves to life, confident that as the Father transformed the existence of Jesus, so he will transform the whole creation, including our bodies and the bodies of our loved ones.