Homily of Archbishop Michael Neary for the Resurrection 2012, Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tuam
When we face the death of someone we love, we face an unspeakable loss. A future is mapped out for us where there will always be a large absence. Sometimes the finality of the loss is so great that there is a denial of death itself.
When Mary of Magdala goes to the tomb of Jesus on Easter Sunday morning she expects to make a rendezvous with death. It is very early on the first day of the week. It is still dark, but there is light enough to see that the stone has been removed from the entrance to the tomb. Mary’s reaction is not immense relief that Jesus is not dead. She does cheat herself with that mad grounded hope. The only conclusion she can come to is that some unknown people must have stolen the dead body of Jesus. Even in death Jesus is not allowed to rest in peace.
When Simon Peter and the beloved disciples hear Mary’s story they run to the tomb. The account in John’s gospel is clearly written in favour of the beloved disciple. When Peter enters the tomb he sees the burial clothes: when the beloved disciple enters the tomb he sees and he believes. The disciple who was closest to Jesus in love is the one who is first to believe in him as the Risen Lord. Perhaps the beloved disciple reckoned that if someone had stolen the body he would not have taken the trouble to strip the body first and then roll up the burial clothes. Or perhaps the Evangelist John is simply telling us that the beloved disciples are always the first to get to the heart of the matter. For the heart of the Resurrection is the matter of love.
What we celebrate in the Resurrection is God’s liberating love for His beloved son. Resurrection is the Father’s response to the Cross, his defiant answer to a world that hoped violence would keep Jesus in its hold. In raising Jesus from the dead God raised every value that Jesus stood for, every story that Jesus told, every preference that Jesus made, every purpose that Jesus followed. All this is given new life and new significance. If death had spoken the final word about Jesus, it would only have been a matter of time before everything about Jesus would have been reduced to a curiosity, a forgetful note in the crowded history of lost causes but God had the last word. In reality God always has the final word and His last word is that He wants us to be with Him and to share Christ’s victory over death and evil and sin.
On this Easter day, joining with the Parish Team in Tuam Cathedral, I wish you all a very happy Easter and pray that the blessings of the Risen Lord will vanish fear from your hearts and enable you to fulfil your responsibilities to your family, your neighbourhood, your community and help you to experience something of the joy of Christ’s victory during this Easter season and always.
- Archbishop Michael Neary is the Archbishop of Tuam. This Easter Sunday homily was delivered in the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tuam, 8 April 2012.
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