Dear friends. It’s Easter Sunday and a very happy Easter to you all. Easter is a wonderful time of year. The days are longer and brighter, the weather is better, the leaves on the trees are appearing, the lambs are born. New life is everywhere. But although all of these things point to the resurrection, what we celebrate today is more than a time of year, or a consoling story, or a theory, or a date on the calendar or a time of holidays. It’s not about the Easter bunny or Easter eggs or the races in Fairyhouse or the anniversary of the Rising, important as these things are. Easter Sunday is about the most incredible news of all – that a man named Jesus Christ who died in history was raised to life. Here is the be-all and end-all of our Christian faith. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then we priests and bishops should pack up and get other jobs and then close the Cathedral behind us. If it isn’t true then we are all in error. As St Paul puts it: ‘If Jesus is not raised from the dead, our preaching is in vain and we are the most pitiable of all people’.
One of the most outstanding features of the readings this Easter Sunday morning is the clarity of belief of the Apostles. They entered the tomb, they saw and they believed. But it didn’t end there. Peter is then found in the first reading preaching the resurrection with great courage and conviction. No doubt some laughed at him, others ignored him and more who tried to kill him. But he was clear about what happened and what he believed. He was undeterred.
We live at a time when every part of our faith is questioned and at times ridiculed. Some, even within the Church, argue that her teachings need to be changed to make them more believable and less demanding. But today, we celebrate belief in the unbelievable – that Jesus rose from the dead. But if this is true then everything is possible. It comes down finally to this. If Jesus was not raised from death, Christianity is a fraud and a joke. But if he did rise from death, then it is a life changing truth. There is no third option.
Once again on this Easter Sunday, we dare proclaim once again that Christ is alive, that he is young and that he is here with us by his Spirit. On this day, with Peter on the day of Pentecost, we dare to proclaim Christ as risen. We do so with the same clarity and conviction as he had. It was a belief for which he lived and for which he died. Today, is a day of hope for everyone and for our world. For all who are burdened with sorrow or suffering and who feel boxed in a dark place, today is the day when the stone is rolled back and we have the chance of a new beginning. Our faith in God is such a precious gift for it contains within it the power of healing and the power to make all things new. If Christ is alive then all things are possible and this is why we hope again.
This is the day when we put everything else aside and go to the heart of who is at the centre of our faith – the risen Lord and his love for us that not even death could not destroy. May you all have a blessed Easter and be born again by the Spirit who makes all things new.