We live in the light of Easter - Easter Sunday 2016

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > We live in the light of Easter - Easter Sunday 2016

 

On Friday the Christian world attended the passion and death of Jesus of Nazareth. We accompanied the Lord as he carried his cross through the narrow streets of Jerusalem, outside the city to Golgotha. We stood at the foot of the cross, gazing in silence at this immense tragedy.

We knew that Jesus was doing what his Father has asked of him. Though he greatly feared the suffering he would have to endure, he said that he was willing to drink this cup, not as his own will but as the will of his Father. He was prepared to be completely obedient in this. He knew the deeper purpose of what he was to endure. It was for the sake of humanity. It was an act of divine mercy.

As life ebbed from his battered and torn body He commended himself into the hands of his Father and was able to say at the last, “It is accomplished”. He breathed his last. His body died.

One thinks of the powerful sculpture of Michelangelo, the Pieta. The lifeless body of Jesus draped across the arms of his sorrowing mother. Jesus of Nazareth was dead at the age of around 33.

He was laid in the tomb awaiting the proper burial rites once the Sabbath was over.

What happens in death? Life vacates the human body. There is no heart beat; there is no brain function. The body is lifeless. Yet the soul lives. The soul leaves the body and enters the realm of the spirit. For there is a reality beyond the physical. It is the realm of the spirit.

Did Christ return to the pure realm of the spirit which is the domain of God? Yes. But something more wondrous was to occur. He would return to earth to manifest himself to his disciples in bodily form. His resurrection embraced his body. Jesus, Son of God, carried his humanity into his risen life. He says to his incredulous disciples, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself”. (Luke 24:39) The disciples will testify that they ate and drank with him. They ate and drank with him. He was not a ghost, a phantom. He was not a spiritual apparition. Nor was he a resuscitated body, like Lazarus raised from the dead.

The Resurrection is the glorification of the human body. The tomb was empty. The body had gone. The Resurrection reunited the body and soul of Jesus but in a wonderfully transformed state.

This exceeds our imagination and our understanding. It is in realm of faith that we receive this truth. It is the testimony of the apostles, the testimony for they were prepared to die. It is the testimony of the Church, enshrined in our Creeds and Catechisms.

God has done a thing never known before, never expected before. The Resurrection is a revelation and its implications for us are extraordinary.

St Paul declares in his letter to the Philippians that Christ “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject all things to himself”. (Phil 3:21) What happened to Christ will happen to us. The Resurrection was not just the victory of Christ over death, but it is the gift to all who believe in him. What happened to Him will happen to us.

The darkness of Good Friday gives way the radiant light of Easter beyond our imagining.

We, as believers, live in radiance of the Easter light. We are an Easter people. We are weighed down by Good Friday as we witness the passion and death of our Saviour. But Calvary does not have the last say. The word of the Church to the world is the Easter Song: “The Lord is truly risen, Alleluia”. And it is wonderful to see.

It is Easter that always characterises the faith of the Christian. Though we must carry our cross, though we must undergo persecution, though we must struggle with our personal sin and fragility, Easter is our hope and our promise. Easter light will dispel the darkness that pervades human experience.

Whatever may be our lot in life, whatever we may have to endure, there will come a transformation. We will rise. We will taste fullness of beatitude. We will be bathed in light.
Thus, our life now is always lived with the hope of heaven. We judge all things according to their eternal meaning and consequence. We live focussed on what awaits us.

Everything in our life has eternal significance. Suffering is not in vain. It can be transformed into grace. Life is not evaluated according to things of this world. Material satisfaction is passing, heavenly glory is our destiny.

The Resurrection of the Lord radically transforms everything. Whatever may appear on the surface of things is not the final reality. Indeed all will pass, but eternity awaits.

We live bathed in the light of Easter.

The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Saturday, 26 March 2016