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Easter Vigil Homily - Fr Paul Rowse, OP

Alleluia, the Lord is risen; he is truly risen, alleluia!  May you who believe in the Lord’s Passover from death to life be rewarded with the vision of his glory face to face, alleluia!

How strange that the Gospels recount for us the non-meeting of the disciples with the risen Lord.  They went to the tomb but had to make a journey to be reunited with him.  It is strange that the Gospel documents should at all record such an episode of seemingly little consequence.  After all, they met him eventually: need we have this peculiar episode recorded for us at all?  Well, yes.

Practically speaking, all of this serves to verify the death once more.  The Lord did not come-to and crawl out of his tomb, no.  He passed through his tomb and will manifest his glory in Galilee, some 150 kilometres away.  That journey for the disciples is like a Passover.  Every step, they will be a little further away from the shame of the cross and tomb.  Every step made in hope, they will come a little closer to being reunited with their friend and Lord.  They will meet again not in Jerusalem, but in Galilee – a place of familiar company and easy innocence.

The disciples make a pass over Jerusalem into Galilee; Christ was the first to pass over.  He did not pass over like the Angel of Death in Exodus, who passed through Egypt to kill the first born of families and passed over Hebrew homes signed with lamb’s blood.  Christ did not pass over like that.  He became the Angel of Life, the messenger of the divine Gospel, who passes first into the realm of the dead.  There, he finds our first parents and all those who did what is right while they lived.

With our forebears in tow, Christ proceeds from the underworld to the highest heaven.  By his own power as God with his Father and the Holy Spirit, Christ rises body and soul into the glory of eternal life.  This is the passover: he is the true passover, the true Lamb, and the true Angel, of which the first Passover with its lamb and angel prefigured.  Whereas the Angel of Death spread his wings over Egypt and so cast a shadow over the living, the true Angel of Life, Christ our God, shares his light with the dead and so makes all live again in him.

Thus, we remain in hope of being reunited with him who has risen, before us and for us.  Day by day, we remove ourselves from old, sinful ways by the work of grace, and so move closer to heaven.  We shall not meet the Lord here on earth.  This is no place to live for ever, because all things here still slavishly obey the law of mortality.

Tonight, we are espoused to eternity, and hope to pass over ourselves to heaven.  We shall imitate the Lord by passing through death into eternal life.  We shall make our lives on earth witness to the world that its doom is inevitable, and so hold out the light of Christ to all people.  For we are those who are on our way out of this world.  Our home, our Galilee, is heaven.  There, we shall be reunited with Christ and all our holy loved ones.  May the risen Lord hasten the day.  Amen.  Alleluia!

Fr Paul Rowse, OP Parish Priest

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