Homily of Most Rev Donal Murray, Bishop of Limerick at Easter Vigil in St John’s Cathedral, Limerick on Saturday 10th April 2004

10 Apr 2004


10 APRIL 2004




As soon as the Sabbath day was over, ‘at the first sign of dawn’ the women
went to the tomb to anoint his body. Two men in brilliant clothes challenged
them: “Why do you look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not
here; he has risen”.

They didn’t know what to think. And when they went back to the apostles with
their account of what had happened, ‘this story of theirs seemed pure nonsense’.

We are not in the same position as they were. We know the end of the story;
but that means we are in danger of taking the amazing truth for granted.
“Why do you look among the dead for someone who is alive?” The question is
every bit as urgent for us as it was for them.

Why do we celebrate tonight? It’s not only because Jesus was a great historical
figure, an inspiring teacher and an outstanding human being. If that were all
we saw in Jesus then we would indeed be looking for him among the dead. Even
the greatest human beings in history are in the tomb among the dead. The core
of our faith is something far greater: “Having been raised from the dead he
will never die again. Death has no power over him any more”.

He no longer lives a life like ours which inevitably ends in death. We celebrate
tonight because he is alive with a life that death cannot touch. “His life now
is life with God”.

The resurrection of Jesus is the first sign of the dawn of a new life beyond
death and sorrow and suffering. We have listened to how God over many centuries
led his people towards his promise. We carried the paschal candle, like the
first sign of dawn, into the Cathedral.

In our celebration of Holy Week we have faced the darkness and the cruelty
of Good Friday. As we recalled the suffering of Jesus, we thought of the many
ways in which his brothers and sisters are ill-treated and ignored, tortured
and slaughtered today.

We looked at the darkness so as to be better able to appreciate the light.
Into that darkness shines the fulfilment of God’s promise to us. The first
to recognise that fulfilment are the women who came to the tomb at the first
sign of dawn.

Jesus has gone before us into the life which he now lives with his Father.
But he does more that that. “When we were baptised, we went into the tomb with
him… so that… we too might live a new life”. We are not just moving towards a
share in his new life; we are living it now. This is why he came – to share
his joy with us to the full (Jn 17:13).

What we are celebrating is not just a hope that we will be transformed at the
end of time but the fact that through our baptism we live a transformed life
now. The Spirit is in our hearts; we are already living the life that death
cannot conquer.

Where do we hide our joy?

Being a Christian means being amazed and overwhelmed at what God is doing for
us. Jesus made a promise his followers as he went to his death: “You have pain
now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will
take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22).

Rejoice O Mother Church! Exult in glory! The risen Saviour shines upon you!

+Donal Murray
Bishop of Limerick

Further information:
Ms Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer 087 233 7797

Notes to Editors:
*The Holy Week and Easter Ceremonies on RTÉ 1 and RTÉ Network 2 this year
will come from Limerick City, centred on the magnificently restored St John’s
Cathedral, where the principal celebrant will be Most Reverend Donal Murray,
Bishop of Limerick.
* The Easter Vigil will be broadcast on RTE 1 from 10.15 pm to 11.45 pm on
Saturday 10th April 2004.
* Further information on diocesan events and ceremonies for Holy Week and Easter
2004 are available on the website of the Catholic Communications Office –