Bishop's Easter Message for 2015
No one knows who wrote the ancient homily that the Church reads in the Liturgy of the Hours every Holy Saturday. It is about Christ’s descent among the dead, calling them to the new life he has won in his death and resurrection. Its imagery is very striking and speaks to the heart of our deepest fears and hopes.
The homily begins this way: “Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and the underworld trembles with fear”.
It is part of being human to be conscious of our mortality. We do not think about it all the time, of course: but when someone close to us is dying, or dies; when we are in danger ourselves: then we certainly do. Only in our most serious moments is the mystery of death at the front of our minds, but it is always there at the back of them. The fear of death casts a shadow on our lives and shapes our worst choices. The question “what happens when we die?” is underneath all human questions.
At Easter, we remember that the Gospel is all about life and death; and that our Christian faith seeks to understand this mystery and asks God for answers to live by. When we renew our promise of Baptism we say that we believe in“the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting”. May those words be formed in our hearts.
The ancient homily concludes with the words of Christ to Adam and all who sleep in death:
“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed angels to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by angels awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”
I wish you the new life of faith this Easter and confidence in the victory won for us by Christ.
+ Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst