EASTER VIGIL 2019 – HOMILY
These past few months, the Catholic Church has been under attack with scandals and sexual abuses. The priesthood has been under attack from within and without too. This crisis that the Catholic Church is experiencing is especially predominant in the Western countries. The never-ending news reports of abuse scandals involving the highest levels of hierarchy has been agonizing and it has been a devastating year for the Catholic Church. Consequently, many Catholics are losing faith and are contemplating to leave the Catholic Church.
I have noticed that every time when we are approaching Easter, there will be some issues that will arise, attacking our priests, our Catholic Church and our faith in Christ. When we hear all these we experience frustrations, sadness and anger.
On Monday, 15 April, the first day of Holy Week, a terrible fire occurred at the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The world was horrified. The Cathedral , named after Our Lady of Paris, is a beautiful cathedral with beautiful Art Works. It is an iconic Cathedral and considered a jewel of Gothic architecture.
The fire that ravaged across this cathedral broke the hearts of not only Catholics all over the world but also the hearts of the French people. The Cathedral was not used for Holy Week and Easter Tridium. Here we are so fortunate to have a church building at Church of St Joseph, Sentul, to celebrate our Holy Week and Easter.
The Notre Dame Cathedral fire burnt a hole in our hearts, yet it can never consume our faith. The never ending reports of sexual abuse scandals and the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, and the latest multiple blasts hit churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday have been agonising our people’s hearts without doubt, but these cannot and will not consume our faith in Christ and the Catholic Church.
Faith is not a building. The worship and prayers of the people inside the church building makes faith alive. The Cathedral is 850 years old and in the past 850 years, millions of people have come to worship and pray in the Cathedral.
Here, we are celebrating 111 years of the establishment of the parish of St. Joseph. We have come to the church hundreds of times to pray and worship with faith. Our regular presence in the church, in worship and prayer, rebuilds and renews our faith in Christ and the Catholic Church. In order to deepen our faith we take every opportunity to come together in worship and in prayer.
Few days ago, I was listening to the BBC broadcast in English. I heard three words highlighted as headlines in most of the daily newspapers in Europe.
- Ravages (Badly damaged) – Massive Fire Ravages Paris Cathedral.
- Smoulders (Burn with smoke without Flames) – Paris Mourns As Notre Dame Smoulders .
- Priceless (So valuable) – Priceless Crown of Thorns Relic Saved After Fire.
The Blessed Sacrament, Holy relics, stained glass and most of the interior remained intact. There is no doubt that the damage is huge, but the most important treasures of the Cathedral were kept safe.
Among the three headlines I was taken up by this word – PRICELESS.
“PRICELESS VALUE OF KNOWING CHRIST”.
St. Paul (Phil 3:1-11) says that knowing Christ is everything, “I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith”.
- The priceless value in knowing Christ – knowing Christ is far more important and valuable than anything else in this world.
- Pressing on towards the goal – we need to press in to Christ and our relationship with Him with the discipline and determination of an athlete.
Our faith in Christ is priceless. Because of the resurrection of Jesus our faith in not in vain. As St. Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and our faith is in vain… and you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Our faith in God is priceless. Our faith should be more valuable than pure because of the Lord has risen as He said. The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ made our faith in Jesus priceless.
If Christ be not risen there is no forgiveness, no new birth, no Heaven, no hope. Everything about Christianity is the dream of fools.
Today, He is alive!
Our faith is alive. Our faith has a future hope.
Easter, that is, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the greatest event of all time. It is the most powerful event in human history.
As we come to celebrate the Risen Lord and make our way towards Easter Season, let’s not forget that we are blessed to enter a period of such joy and love because He is Risen as He promised. We have an opportunity to come together continuing to build our faith.
On Good Friday, we celebrated Jesus was sacrificed and crucified on the Cross. The Church is the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is sacrificed. Christ Himself was sacrificed and crucified on the Cross. Probably the Satan may rejoice in the beginning. But the Lord has defeated the evil at the end. It was the sacrifice of the lamb of God that God brought life to the world.
Today we rejoice because every sacrifice brings new life. Every crucifixion needs resurrection.
Today the Lord is going to resurrect something new in your life. I don’t know! You should know yourselves better.
A little girl lived near a cemetery and often had to walk through the cemetery after her tuition alone. When someone asked, “Are you ever afraid whenever you pass by the cemetery especially at night?” She said, “Oh, no. My home is just beyond.”
If our faith is in the risen Christ gives us a priceless value knowing Jesus and priceless values to our faith, we no need to fear of death. Our home is just beyond! If we safeguard our faith then our faith is alive always.
The greatest three words ever written in history are, “He is risen!” He is risen beyond the grave. My Lord has risen from the grave. Death could not hold him bound. He is alive! My Redeemer lives!
May you have a blessed Resurrection Day!
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy