Second Sunday of Easter
Mass Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne,
on Sunday, 7th April, 2002, at 11.00am
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At the end of the great week of Easter we remember that our faith is a precious gift like fire-tried gold. The joy of the early Christians and their having everything in common was a sign of their faith.
Today we are invited, not merely to listen to the Word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist, but to live the Gospel Jesus preached and humbly and generously in our daily life to be examples of God's everlasting love.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The famous author C. S. Lewis, who died in 1963, tells the story of a very small, prayerful boy who was longing for Easter to come and for the joy it would bring about. He was heard murmuring what must have been a poem that he had written. It began, "Chocolate eggs and Jesus risen." Lewis' suggestion was that this showed a great piety and love of God, but he did also note that the time would come when the child would be able to distinguish between the chocolate eggs and the resurrection of Jesus. One has to then distinguish which aspect of Easter we would focus on. If we put the spiritual first, then we can taste something of Easter in the chocolate eggs. If we put the eggs first, then they will soon be nothing more than a sweet.
This story invites us to grapple with the reality of Easter. Is it a spiritual reality that has altered forever our understanding of death? "Is it something which changes our lives forever?" or is it stagnant in the empty tomb, the stone that is rolled away, the burial cloths. If we see that Jesus is really risen, then we have to look at the purpose for which he rose, which is to bring you and me to a new life. That means that our prayer, 'Jesus is risen, he is risen indeed, alleluia', changes our life. In the early Church people were so touched by Jesus' resurrection that they shared their material possessions. This is important for us in the sense that we have a responsibility to support each other.
Easter invites us to have a new birth, to be touched by something that was not there before, to mercy, to hope, to salvation. Anyone who has ever been a mother here will remember that a birth is never achieved without pain and suffering. Saint Peter reminds us that we have to look on the daily struggles of Christian living and the trials, which are part of commitment as the birth pangs that will bring the glory of eternal life. In other words, if we are trying to live in Christ, if we are trying to keep our eyes fixed on the things that are above, then I cannot promise you that you will not suffer or have to struggle. However, because even in our weakness our God is ready to save us even if we were the only person in the world, then this must challenge our dealings with others.
This gives us a hope that there is something worthwhile in our struggles. This means that you and I can be instruments of hope and life for the people we meet.
In the Gospel, Jesus is sending his disciples out to bring peace and reconciliation to others. For the Christian in today's community it means above all to believe that peace is possible in our family, in our society, between nations. Similarly, it is possible for us to work to bring ourselves and others together under Christ in ways we did not dream possible. I am challenged to ask myself whether my energy is driven by the things we do around Easter time or am I trying to stand in truth before the mystery that Jesus has died and is risen and allow it to impact on my every thought, word and deed.
Chocolate eggs or Jesus risen. Temporary happiness or God's life-giving grace. The choice is yours and mine. "You did not seem him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which you faith looks forward, that is the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 8-9).
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.