ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, ARMAGH
VIGIL MASS, 29 MARCH 1997, 9.00 PM
CARDINAL SEAN BRADY
Easter celebrates the most important moment in the history of the world, when Jesus suffered, died and rose from the dead. He passed from death to life. He set the world free from the slavery of sin and from the fear of death. He led us all into a freedom that will last forever. He is the Saviour of the world.
We all have bodies and sufferings. When we celebrate the Easter ceremonies commemorating the sufferings, death and resurrection of Christ, we are placing our own bodies and our own sufferings under the sign of the cross. It is our way of saying to Christ: “We want to share in the mystery of your bodily dying and rising”. It is our way of expressing the hope that one day God will raise up and transform our poor, sick, sore bodies and our poor, sick, sore divided world.
Easter is a time of new life and a time of new hope. The light of the Easter candle reminds us of the sure hope that the spirit of the Risen Lord continues to act in our lives and in our world. Easter is a time when we realise that what we yearn for in the depths of our hearts actually could become a reality. We long for a world that is safe and peaceful; a world where people can live in faithfulness to God and to each other; where people can live with dignity; where people can live free from fear and intimidation. We yearn for a world where everyone, especially the sick and the weak and the old, is welcomed and loved and cared for; a world free from corruption and greed; Where the Church promotes and proclaims God’s endless mercy and justice fearlessly and ceaselessly. Yes, the victory of Christ gives real grounds for hoping that every human hunger can be satisfied, the hunger for truth and beauty and honesty, the hunger for love, respect and fidelity.
“Empty dreams”, “Pie in the sky”, “sweet talk” may well be the comments of those who know so well the weakness of our condition. At Easter we name the forces of darkness that are present in our world and in our lives, and we celebrate the victory of Christ over those forces. We celebrate that victory of Christ with joy because it points to God’s final triumph over every power of evil.
We pray that the light of Christ, rising in glory, may dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds. For only the light of Christ gives hope that does not deceive. Only the light of Christ is powerful enough to drive out the hatred and the anger from our hearts: hatred and anger nourished on the memory of ancient wrongs but powerful enough to sour and embitter us for life. Only the love of Christ can move hearts, hardened by bigotry and prejudices. Only the light of Christ can enable us to see ourselves as we really are, weak sinners destined to become saints, and to see those who differ from us whether in politics, culture or religion, as equal and precious in the sight of God.