This liturgy, so filled with beautiful words, does not perhaps require a very long homily from the celebrant. We have heard, through the proclamation of the great Exultet, the Easter Proclamation that I was privileged to offer you (and I hope my French was not so poor that you were unable to understand me!), through the beautiful readings of this liturgy, and through above all the Gospel of the Resurrection of Christ, we have heard the message loud and clear: Christ is risen from the dead, and the world is reborn, recreated, in the glory and light of his Resurrection.
But the question may emerge at this point, after all this verbiage, all these words presenting us with this proclamation. Namely, ‘so what’? What difference does it make? What’s it about, really? Is it just a fabulous story of some amazing thing that happened 2000 years ago? Did it really happen at all? Is it just some sort of symbol of something or other – new life or some such thing? And what’s it all got to do with us – what practical difference does it make in your life and my life and the life of the world in the year 2016?
Well it is an amazing thing that did happen 2000 years ago, that’s for sure. And it is deeply symbolic as well – the Resurrection of Jesus has profound meaning for you and for me and for everyone, whether we always know it or not. But it is more than a symbol, and more than a historical event. It seems to me that the one word that sums up what Easter means for us, the difference Easter makes for us, is the word ‘hope’. Because of Easter, because Jesus died and then rose from the dead, really, we have hope. Real hope. Indestructible hope. Hope that endures not only for this life, but beyond it into eternity.
And hope is the deciding factor in the world. Those who have hope are the ones who can make the real difference in life, can make the kinds of choices we need to make if, in the year 2016, love is to overcome hate, and light is to overcome darkness.
It is hope that gives us the strength to do this. And the Resurrection of Christ gives us hope. How? Because in this resurrection, into which we enter and have a share in by baptism and persevere in by the life of grace nourished by the sacraments and by faith, we know that death is not the end of the story.
Every human life is a story; every human being has a story to tell. Some stories are happy and prosperous and filled with sunshine and laughter; other stories are filled with tragedy and sorrow. But all human stories seem to have the same ending, regardless, and that ending is the grave. Seemingly.
But the Good News is that there is One who has entered the grave, entered the tomb, and found the way out again. Because He is man, He could die, and did die. Because He is God, He conquered death and rose, and is alive. And He is here in this Church. And we eat His Body and drink His blood, and He lives in us. And because of that, when we die, our story does not end, but a new story begins, a story that has no end, and is all joy and beauty and glory.
And so we have hope. And because of that hope, we can persevere in love, in charity, in kindness, in goodness, in living the Gospel of mercy to the very end of life no matter what it may cost us. Because life for us is not a dreary trudge towards the grave, but is lived bound for heaven and for eternal joy and glory, we can lay down our lives for one another and for the world, like Christ did. And it is this kind of love and mercy and generosity that the world needs so desperately in the year 2016, and it is this love and mercy and generosity that the Risen Lord Jesus wishes to give us this Easter. Amen.