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Easter Vigil 2021

Homily given by Bishop Anthony Randazzo

Holy Saturday
Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral
3 April 2021

My sisters and brothers, the Lord is Risen from the dead, Alleluia!

These words, which have been repeated by believers time and again since the first Easter, are testimony to Christian joy and hope – they confirm the fulfilment of God’s promise, they verify and complete God’s covenant of love.

The Apostle Paul reassures us of this hope when to the Church of Rome he declares, “Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again” (Romans 6:9). Likewise, he confirms and deepens our joy saying, “If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection” (Romans 6:5).

Dying with Christ is to stand beneath His Cross, to believe in Jesus as the Saviour, and to be joined with Him in his sacrifice of love. It is to offer our thoughts and words, our hopes and desires, our sin and darkness to Jesus, who alone can restore human dignity and the hope of eternal life which were given to us when we were created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27).

United with Jesus in his death on the Cross we will learn the true meaning of God’s covenant of love. It is a covenant of love that is prefigured in the acceptance by Abraham of the sacrifice of Isaac his son (Genesis 22:10). It is a covenant of love sustaining the People of Israel as they cry out and acclaim God as Father, “The Lord is my strength, my song, my salvation” (Exodus 15:1). It is a covenant of love so powerful that the filth and stench of sin are washed away and all that remains is a fragrant people cleansed and filled with a new spirit (cf. Ezekiel 36:25-27).

The passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus save us from sin and desolation. Through the Paschal Mystery, God’s fidelity to the promise of a restored creation is realized. The human heart of stone, broken because of selfishness, pride, and sin, now beats with the pulse of Christ. Stone changes to flesh, light dispels the darkness, sin is redeemed by grace, hatred is quenched by love.

My brothers and sisters, this is the mystery of faith manifest in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. In the waters of baptism, we have died and risen with Him. Christ will never die again. He has opened the way for us to everlasting life.

Shirley, by imitating Christ the Lord in the waters of baptism during this Easter Vigil, you too will give up your old self and become a new creation. The imitation of Christ that Saint Paul calls us to as one body, is to die with Him – once for all to sin, and to become alive for God in Christ Jesus. To be alive for God is to live life in the Spirit. It is to be animated by a new way of being and thinking which draws the disciple of Christ into a new life – an eternal covenant of love. To live and to love as Christ does can take a lifetime to bear fruit. However, we must not fear. This is the work of God, active in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

To live and love as Christ, is to open one’s heart to the Spirit and to allow God to work within. In this way others will know the Lord of life and love. When we are patient, kind, and gentle the world will know God’s love. By living in love, joy and peace, the world will know God’s love. Through our faithfulness, goodness, and self-control the world will know God’s love (cf. Galatians 5:22). These are signs that as the People of God, the Body of Christ, we have died and risen to new life in imitation of our Saviour.

Shirley and Jacek – your profession of faith this evening will join you more perfectly to the Body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. As you are anointed with sacred Chrism, the grace of baptism will be roused within you and confirm your life of discipleship to Christ. With your brothers and sisters in the community of the Church, you will be sent to proclaim the Good News of salvation. It is the same commission that the Angel gave the women at the empty tomb (cf. Mark 16:7).

My dear people, for our part, let us welcome Shirley and Jacek into the fellowship of Christ’s Body. Through our love of them in Christ, may they flourish as living members of His Body. Might we also be inspired by the saving work that God is doing in them as they journey towards eternal life.

We too are alive for God in Christ Jesus. We too, like the women at the empty tomb, must now go out and with tongues loosened and hearts afire with the Spirit, we must tell the world that the Lord is Risen from the dead, Alleluia!