We are an Easter people, Alleluia is our song

Dramatic Easter Morning Sunrise

Dramatic Easter Morning Sunrise

President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Hart, celebrated Mass on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne.

“We are an Easter people; Alleluia is our song,” the Archbishop said.

Read the Archbishop’s homily below including the homily that he preached during the Holy Saturday vigil and at the Passion on Good Friday.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“When Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.” (Colossians 3:4)

As we go with Peter and John to find the empty tomb today’s Gospel give us a great contrast between the darkness and searching of Mary Magdalene and Peter and the intuition of John, which spread to them all, upon realising that Jesus rose from the dead.

In Europe from the darkness of winter to the glorious burst of colour and new life in the world around about us, Easter bursts in with colour and new growth. The darkness of our sin gives way to the possibility of redemption. Light, hope and grace overcome the darkness of failure, struggle and evil.

Although Easter occurs in autumn in Australia, the parallel is also clear. The harsh heat of summer gives way to a more mellow and contemplative time when the cold of winter has not yet approached so that in peace we can realise that Jesus’ rising from the dead was necessary as the completion of our salvation.

Saint Paul challenges us in the second Reading this morning to see what it is that we live by. The Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy, spoke of his conversion to Christianity:

“Five years ago I came to believe in Christ’s teaching and my life suddenly changed; I ceased to desire what I previously desired and began to desire what I formerly did not want. It happened to me as it happens to a man who goes out on business and then suddenly decides that the business is unnecessary and returns home. The direction of my life and my desires became different. Good and evil changed places.”

Tolstoy enunciated the radical changes of heart and mind, lifestyle and priorities, that must be evident in the lives of those who belong to Christ through baptism.

Sometimes we say of a person, “Music is his life.” Or “Politics is her life.” Or “She lives for her work.” For us as Christians, Christ is our life; the cause of our being, the source of life’s meaning, the reason for our hope, joy and perseverance in faith. Just as it was the reality of Christ risen that inspired John and captivated Peter and Mary Magdalene, so it is that faith in Christ and living close to him will change our earthly pilgrimage.

In a society, which is increasingly individualistic and people seek to fulfil their own personal desires without relation to anyone else, we have a similar effect of selfishness and preoccupation with my view, my will, being death bearing.

By the greatest gift in history, that of himself – God and human, Our Lord has saved us because he leads us again to appreciate what is precious in each of us; the gift he gives of life, to be respected, treated with dignity and to be nurtured by each of us reaching out to others.

In our families we have to discover the need to have time for each other, to be there for those who need to be there for us. If Christ is our life, then we will strive to have the same attitude of giving for others and being for others and building up the gifts of others that he achieved by his redemption. This is why his words to the apostles, “Do not be afraid”, are so relevant in our time.

Jesus is risen. Do not be afraid. Christ is our life. If it is by him that we live, then like Tolstoy, like Saint Paul, a wonderful revelation awaits us of the glory and imperishability of the human spirit because we are made with an immortal soul, baptised into Christ, destined for eternal life and joy.

May this Easter be for all in our Church and our community a glimpse of the true reality won for us by Christ, which will never pass away. We are an Easter people and alleluia, praise God, is our song.

+ Denis J. Hart,
President, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

Homily preached By Archbishop Hart, at the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne on 26 March 2016.

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

“Let there be light!”

(Genesis 1.3)

The light which originates in the Easter fire and comes from the Paschal Candle and represents Christ is among us to show that each of us must make their first step towards the light. This is true of those who are being baptised in our parishes and who will be nourished in their faith, as they have now completed the way and come vested in the white robes as a reminder to all of us that they wish to live fully in the light of Christ.

For each of us on this night there is a singular passing from death to life. Truly it is a point of arrival from which we will never turn back and of departure to a new life with the Saviour. Saint John reminds us that “in Jesus was life and the life was the light of men.”

The whole Church focuses on Christ and we are reminded of our baptism as tonight we celebrate the baptism of some children. Baptism means that Jesus risen remains the greatest power in our life: for growth and renewal, for hope.

The light which comes from fire and the water of baptism lead us through the Red Sea to a new life. The challenge which Saint Paul gives to us, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were buried with him by baptism into death so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6.3-4)

This is no mere commemoration. It is a real invitation and challenge to walk with Christ, risen from the dead, who will never die again. What we must not forget is that Christ is risen and he is with us; tidings of great joy, which challenge us to live in the light which only our Saviour gives. We seek for Jesus among the dead and are reminded that he is risen.

The faith that he gives is no mere memorial. It is the living and walking in his presence, nourished by Word and Sacrament, on a journey which will be filled with hope and glory. In the midst of a troubled world we are radiant in that hope, filled with tidings of great joy; transformed because Christ, our Passover, is risen and we too have passed over from death to life with him. Alleluia!

+ Denis J. Hart,
President, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

Homily preached by Archbishop Hart at the celebration of the Passion on Good Friday, 25 March 2016.

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have just read the story of the Passion of our Saviour and its representation has challenged many of our sisters and brothers to face the infinite love of God, who chose to go to death that we might live. “For us Christ became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:8)

The Church wishes to emphasise the bloody sacrifice on the Cross so that the unbloody celebration of the Eucharist may bring its power to our lives. Jesus is the man of sorrows disguised and rejected by men who bore the weight of our suffering and was smitten for our transgressions. We cannot fail to be moved by Christ’s suffering freely for us. It is this which moves us to venerate the Cross as the instrument of our salvation.

Our Lord has entered the depths of human suffering to lift us up to see through suffering to the reality of glory and hope.

No picture shows as well as the Cross the indifference of the world to Christ. There on the Cross Jesus was dying in agony and at its foot the soldiers threw their dice as if it did not matter. In the words of Lamentation, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” (Lamentations 1.12)

The tragedy is not the hostility of the world to Christ. The tragedy is the indifference of the world, which treats the love of God as if it did not matter. To be touched by the infinite love of God in the midst of our suffering and sin means to be called to conversion of life. Here, the Cross meets your life and mine and invites us to see our God, limitless in love. We are called to repent of our own sins and confess them.

Jesus was accompanied by his Father and by the women who loved him. It was he who committed Mary to John and John to her to show that our lives are intertwined with his saving act.

We, sinners though we may be, are invited, nay challenged, to bow our heads in adoration and our lives in awe and wonder as we seek to follow the way of the Cross and on to resurrection. This is why we bear the Cross as hope to the world of final victory.

We adore you O Christ and praise you because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

+ Denis J. Hart,
President, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

Source :
Easter homilies, Archbishop Hart