Thursday, 4 April 2013

Easter Vigil Homily 2013 - Abbot Mark

Easter Vigil 
Service of Light
Liturgy of Baptism - Homily 
Holy Saturday has seemed like a vacuum crying out to be filled.  It was a day when liturgically there was no centre of focus.  The crosses and crucifixes were out of sight; our statues covered over.  Christ was not reserved in our tabernacles. 

 Liturgically, we were disorientated.  There was no reverent bowing or sense of direction in the church.  We prayed as if we were just in a room, just as the disciples were, gathered together after Jesus was crucified.

The disciples were devastated.  They thought that their dreams were destroyed with the death of their Master. Their astonishing years travelling round with him had seemed so full of promise but now were all for nothing. 

Our time together has not been exactly like that of the apostles.  The difference is that they were left in a kind of limbo; our situation has been helped by our knowledge of what actually happened in the days that followed the harrowing experience of Calvary.  We can see where the scriptures were leading them; they had to live through the deepest of disappointments and aimlessness.  But they did come through it all because, in spite of their misunderstanding and cowardice, they renewed their however badly they had coped with the treatment Jesus received from his enemies, and especially with his death.

With the rumours that Jesus had risen from the dead, and then his mysterious meetings with a number of the disciples before he met all of them again, their lives began to be pieced together once more.  This time there was an awareness that things were not as mistaken as they had imagined.   Jesus’ words to them were true but they themselves were now different.  They understood better and acted differently.  They were more convinced of what they had been told and they were now more responsible in living it and preaching it, especially after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The scriptures tell us that God is love.  We find it hard to believe this is true.  Our laziness, our distrust of others, our own lack of real commitment all have an effect on the degree to which we are open to God.  We find it hard to understand God knows that about us and that he won’t give up on us.  Like the disciples hiding in that room in Jerusalem after Jesus was crucified, God is putting about rumours that something is happening.  Strangely, it is when we are let down and feel broken in our lives and very vulnerable that we become more open to God.  The cracks in our lives give God a chance to break through our hard defensive shell.

No matter how bad or indifferent we are, love is an attractive proposition.  It’s our nature to love.  There was once a popular song which said that it is love that makes the world go round.  It is love, in whatever form it God calls us to, that makes us happy ultimately.  God is the proof of that.

And that is what lies at the heart of our celebration tonight.  Our Lord gave himself to his Father and to us because of love.  He defied all that evil could do to him, because he knew that what he lived and said was true. He became newly alive in the resurrection to show us that.

That is his message for us.  He did in his own life what he had taught us through the apostles.  More than that, he now gives us the strength and help we need to do the same ourselves. Our vocation is to be Christ for others.  That means we ourselves must first live like Christ.

Tonight’s liturgy now comes to the point where we are called to put our own name on the dotted line.

We have been baptised into the life of Christ.  We have the opportunity to strengthen it as we now renew our commitment to make Christ more alive in us.
Abbot Mark