Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Rebirth!
No testimony is more unanimous in the New Testament. From the oldest to the latest writings, the climax is always the same - "God raised Jesus from the dead" and the Apostles "have seen the Lord". As a result, they experienced spiritual rebirth and were endowed with renewed courage and sense of purpose. Today's readings affirm this experience of rebirth and renewal.

Acts 10:34, 37-43 - Describes how the Apostles are renewed through their encounter with the Risen Christ and in their breaking of bread with him.

Corinthians 5: 6-8 - Paul quotes the well known example of how yeast in a mass of dough changes its character and reminds the Christian community at Corinth that Christ is the "yeast" of sincerity and truth to change attitudes set in evil and wickedness.

John 20: 1-9 - Recounts the stunning experience of the women who came to the tomb where Christ had been buried, only to find it empty. They passed this news onto the Apostles who confirmed the women's discovery, and, at the same time, had their own faith confirmed.

Point 1: - Every man, woman, and child, here or elsewhere, is only too well aware of the power of evil in people's lives. The pages of history are full of horrendous accounts of the capricious nature of evil. Our observance of Good Friday provides us with one such example of the power of evil - the cruel and malicious execution of one revered by all as the personification of goodness itself.

The disciples of Jesus were as dispirited and demoralised by his death, as we in our own times can be, as we reflect on the spectacular triumphs of evil in the present and the recent past. But, puzzling as the calamity of evil is, something more puzzling happened to restore the disciples' spirits. It was the victory of life over death achieved in the resurrection of Christ from the dead. This triumphant manifestation of the supremacy of good over evil prompted St. Paul, in later years, to proclaim - Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" and later Christian writers to exult "O culpa felix! - O happy fault, which has deserved to have such and so mighty a Redeemer", a song of exultation proclaimed in the Liturgy of Holy Saturday.

Point 2: This vision gave the first Christians an energy which charged their belief with an astonishing power. And although not all may believe in this power of good over evil to the same extent today, Easter continues to signify, in timeless fashion, that good can undoubtedly overcome evil; that light can pierce the dark. We can see a reflection of this in the small but immeasurably significant acts of kindness and generosity human beings extend to each other on a daily basis. Today there is a great deal of talk about depression, and recession and crime, all of which only makes it more urgent that the message of Jesus be recognised for what it is - a call to justice, a call to curb greed, a call to live within one's means- a call for the righting of wrongs, the renewal of values , the need for reconciliation.

Conclusion: As we fumble through our bewildering age, the hope inspired by Easter remains a powerful force. It is a message of hope that a self-centred and often greedy society, with a conscience dulled by apathy, can ignore only at its peril. It is a message that must first be heard by the individual who then, like the yeast, works on the mass. It is a message that draws its authority from the fact of the Resurrection. Again, St. Paul advises -"If Christ be not risen then our preaching is empty and your faith is without foundation".

Scriptural reference: 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]