Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - He is Risen
As a result of these words, a most profound, religious transformation took place almost two thousand years ago, and the energies released by it continue to affect lives today. For us, the response to the psalm this morning says it all - "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad".

Point 1: With regard to the Resurrection, scientific history cannot take us past the accounts that have come down to us from the Apostles and recorded for us in the Scriptures. The fact itself escaped historical observation; but history can, and must, weigh the credibility of the Apostles' testimony. And so must we, for, as St. Paul warns, "we must not believe without good reason" (1 Cor. 15:2). The Christian Faith stands or falls with the Resurrection. St. Paul, again, cautions -"If Christ has not been raised, then our teaching is empty, and your faith without foundation".
No testimony is more unanimous in the New Testament. From the oldest to the latest writings, its climax is always the same - that God "raised His Son from the dead" (1 Thess 1:10). As a result, the Apostles experienced spiritual rebirth and a new hope which endowed them with renewed courage and sense of purpose.

Point 2: Many in today's society are gripped by the same sense of futility that had gripped the Apostles when their dreams collapsed with the arrest and death of Christ. The great mysteries of life and death are still trivialised or ignored by large numbers for whom self interest and pleasure provide their basic motivation. On the other hand, the spirit of giving and self-sacrifice represented in the central stories and symbols of all the great world religions is alive and well in the lives of many. So much of the well-being in our western societies is due to the spirit of giving and sacrifice represented in the voluntary efforts of so many to improve the quality of life. At a broader level, the response to the many crises generated by natural disasters point to this same spirit of sacrifice and spirit of giving. Particularly has this been so in the response to the September 11 horror in New York; the rapid response to help victims of natural disasters wherever they happen; the unstinting efforts of the fire-fighters throughout the country. TheĀ  record response to the Tsunami disaster; the growing recognition by the younger generations of the place of Anzac Day in our National Calendar; all these give grounds for hope that the message so central to our presence here today has not been completely lost. Selflessness is an important product of the religious experience. But it is not the total experience.

Point 3: The ultimate challenge is the recognition that this life is but a stepping stone to life in its fullness - ultimate union with God. That in death , life is not taken away but is changed. As an anonymous Indian mystic and poet wrote -" Death is not extinguishing the light, but putting out the lamp because the dawn has come". It is here that we find our ultimate motivation. Such Faith provides the powerhouse for the Hope and Charity that inspire our acts of selflessness without which our society becomes a jungle governed by the primeval law of "survival of the fittest"

Conclusion: It is easy to be cynical and judgmental. To highlight the failures of the few to discount the good work of many. There are many who have become disenchanted with the institutional face of religion and are quick to pass judgement. The Church is made up of humans; and, as one commentator put it, "By all means look for the perfect Church, but, understand that when you find it and join it, it becomes imperfect!".
In the meantime, the message of Easter remains, as it ever has been, a challenge to death, to pain and suffering with its statement that from these new life comes - good eventually triumphs.

Scriptural reference: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ..... and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you....In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, (1 Pet 1: 3-4)