Homily of Monsignor Joseph McGuinness at Easter Vigil in Patrick’s Church, Tyholland, Co Monaghan

15 Apr 2017

It was the brilliant Irish wit, Oscar Wilde, who famously wrote that a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. There can often seem to be such a hard cynicism at the heart of modern life – in social attitudes, international relations, political culture, even in basic human relationships.

In a world afflicted by the horrors of war and violence, the destruction of human lives may be seen as a price worth paying for power or the purity of ideology. In a country now accustomed to rising homelessness, Direct Provision and increased strains on family life, there can seem to be a greater concern for the price of houses than the value of homes. In the face of all the brutal realities of our world, in a climate of anxiety and uncertainty, it is easy to succumb to a cynical and weary view of life and begin to lose hope.

For us as Christians, gathered on this most sacred of nights, the picture is very different. In the words of the great Easter proclamation:

“The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.”

On this Easter night we are presented with the supreme example of the triumph of value over price. For what Jesus Christ has done for us is of a value beyond measure, and given without any thought of the cost. In the brilliant light of the Lord’s Resurrection, we as Christians see clearly where real value is to be found in our lives. The Resurrection of Jesus doesn’t just show to us the infinite value of redemptive love and self-sacrifice, but also exposes the worthlessness of human betrayal, greed, jealousy and cruelty.

True, there is suffering and grief in our world; there is poverty and injustice, cruelty and oppression. And we, as Easter people, must respond.

True, we can ourselves be given to greed and jealousy, selfishness and intolerance. And we, as Easter people, must repent.

But the greater truth is that there is also human kindness, compassion and generosity of heart; there is hope and consolation, joy and love. And we, as Easter people, must celebrate.

In a world of uncertainty, anxiety and fear, may we hear again and again the words of the Risen Lord: “Do not be afraid.” Let us be fearless in living and proclaiming the Easter message in all its joy. May it bring to us and to our world the infinite value of love and a hope beyond price. Christ is risen – Alleluia!

Joseph McGuinness
St Patrick’s, Tyholland

Notes to Editors:
The Diocese of Clogher encompasses all of Co Monaghan, most of Fermanagh and portions of Tyrone, Donegal, Louth and Cavan. It has a Catholic population of 88,000 across 37 parishes. There are 85 churches and 66 priests ministering in the diocese.

Monsignor Joseph McGuinness is the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Clogher, pending the appointment by Pope Francis of a new bishop. He is also the Administrator of the Parish of Tyholland, a post he has held since 2010.

The Easter Vigil is the night when the Catholic Church keeps vigil, waiting for the resurrection of the Lord, and celebrates the sacraments of Christian initiation – baptism, confirmation and eucharist. It marks the beginning of a fifty-day festival in the Church – the season of Easter – which lasts until Pentecost.