Easter Sunday Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

Sunday 1 April 2018

“I am risen and I am with you. Alleluia!”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Welcome to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral as we celebrate the greatest feast of our Church Year. This is indeed the day the Lord has made. We rejoice because Christ is risen from the dead and through Baptism he has given us his risen life. Each year we celebrate the resurrection because we know that we are always destined for higher things.

In our prayer today we remember those who are seeking to rise from the devastation of bushfires, those who are seeking to recover from illness, those who are looking for hope that Christ, the Giver of all hope, may be with them.

At the end of this Mass in the name of Pope Francis I will give his blessing as a reminder that we are members of one holy, Catholic Church, founded on the apostles.

The initial words of this Mass, “I have risen and I am with you” or “Christ the Lord is risen today”, are a reminder that once the resurrection occurred Jesus Christ was permanently changed. Having undergone the suffering of human nature, the brutality of a terrible passion and crucifixion he is now risen, glorified, living for God. He touches our earth to strengthen our faith.

Saint John’s Gospel shows the apostles rushing to the tomb, seeing and believing. In a later section of the same chapter, Jesus appears to the women to strengthen their faith in the fact of his resurrection. Their coming to the tomb was in fact rewarded by this remarkable gesture by Jesus.

Today’s first Reading invites us to be witnesses to the resurrection and the second Reading underlines that we have been brought back to true life with Christ, living for the things of heaven. For us baptism means a new perspective. We not only live for the things of everyday, the people and situations we hold dear, but all of these must be seen in the context of our destiny.

For forty days Jesus would appear from time to time to strengthen the faith of his first followers. We praise him because his dying frees us from sin and opens us to the possibility of a permanent change.

The Protestant theologian, Karl Barth, insisted: “We are threatened by the resurrection because we do not like to admit that we are deeply imprisoned in our world of sin and death and that we are incapable of helping ourselves.” Our Catholic faith on the other hand shows that by the power of God we are able to face what went before and to live in newness of life. As the Lord’s right hand has triumphed, as Jesus has overcome death, so we are able to overcome sin and to live for the future.

In many of our parishes last night candidates were baptised or received into the Church. The faith that many of us have from our birth has been renewed. We are invited to see that continual renewal of life as the work of the power of God in our lives. While we may know our own poverty before God, we know too the merciful rescue that he gives, provided that we are prepared to surrender ourselves to him and go forward to life.

In the same way that people are seeking to recover after the bushfires, we see that this tragedy brought out tremendous human and spiritual goodness in the people of Victoria. Indeed, the challenge for Victorians at present, while we live in the midst of economic uncertainty and certain unemployment, is to re-focus our lives as individuals and as a community on what was evident in the days after the bushfire. People discovered good in others they never knew. We discovered hope because we were alive. For a short time we lived for each other rather than for isolation and material gain. This teaches that living for Christ and for each other goes beyond even the most tragic and challenging situations in life. If we are prepared to live our lives at this deeper level, then we will be prepared to seek out the need of others, to walk with it and to give encouragement and hope.

We are risen with Christ, by Christ. He wants to give us his glorious life. He wants us to live the spirit of our baptism. We renounce all that sin has burdened in our life so as to live for God with fullness and steadfastness. Christ died once. In dying he wants us to die to all that is sin to destroy those habits in ourselves which lead away from him, to live in the hope mentioned in the first Reading and in the words of the Psalm. We turn to Jesus for strength for our journey: “You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand happiness for ever.” (Psalm 15:10-11)

The risen Christ is not some distant figure. He is Lord of all. He comes to us throughout our lives in the Sacraments. Regularly in the Eucharist he invites us to undertake a journey which encompasses our everyday life and changes it forever, to a destiny and hope which are constant, to a life which is without end. That is the hope and service that we offer to each other with our new vision, filled by God and others, not leaving room for ourselves and finding true and lasting happiness.

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad!” (Psalm 117:24)

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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