It is my great joy to wish you all a very happy Easter. Where better to be, than here together in this great cathedral, offering our praise and thanks to God! We are washed by this wonderful music, whether Palestrina or the ageless quality of the plain-chant. We lift our minds and hearts to God with joy.
There is plenty of energy and joy in this morning’s Gospel reading. It is full of speed and haste! Mary Magdalene runs to her friends, the disciples, after finding the tomb of Jesus to be empty. Peter and John set of running to the tomb in response. Peter, puffing and out of breath, is easily overtaken by the young John. John arrives first, but he stands back to allow Peter to be the first to enter. For Peter is to be the prime witness, the first to speak formally of the resurrection of Jesus, as we heard in this morning’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles.
Yet it is John who first recognises the truth of what they have both seen. Here we see again that love recognises things the mind is slow to grasp. For this is not just an empty tomb, not just about a missing body. But this is the place of the greatest story ever told. Jesus is risen. A man has come to new life after the totality of death.
But that is not all. This man is the Son of God, God from God, Light from Light. The Eternal Word.
What has been done by God, for only God can do this, has been done in our flesh so that we may share its fruit, its victory.
In a phrase: life now rules where death once reigned.
Our task is to apply this to our own lives and to live by that new life.
So where, in our lives, does death reign?
There is often a darkness in our hearts, whenever we harbour destructiveness and bitterness, a lack of forgiveness or a desire to have our revenge.
There is a harshness in our world, marked at times by a cynicism, by corrosive mistrust, by a lack of forgiveness.
There is the power of suffering that touches so many of us.
There is the presence of sin, which pulls towards repeating behaviours that harm and hurt others and ourselves at the same time.
Then there is the darkness of death itself which offers us, so it seems, nothing but oblivion.
Christ’s victory is over each one of these.
Our hearts can share in the love which flows from him, from the source of the very life of God.
He entered our world, our city, and carried into every corner his grace and his love, even to the ultimate measure of the cross.
He carried our suffering so that when we are suffering we may be united to him.
His victory of death opens for us the escape from death’s cold embrace through the unbreakable promise of life after death, for all eternity.
This Easter gift is no fleeting moment, but a radically new horizon by which to set our course; a new way of life for us to pursue; a new grace and power by which we can live.
I wish you all a full share of this Easter victory and joy.
I urge you to return often to its source, to Christ, to the Church and her sacraments.
May this Easter morning be a fresh start for us all.