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Homily for Easter Sunday, 31 March 2024 - Deacon Jim Curtain

What are we afraid of?

Is it pain, is it poverty, is it losing our reputation, is it death?

Do we fear that even if we have a life without pain, or are well off or even wealthy, or if we are  well regarded, even famous, that death makes it all pointless, all futile?

Whatever it might be  we are afraid of, Jesus walked that path before us. In the course of a week, Jesus went from the triumphant entry into Jerusalem to being deserted by most of his followers, despised by the crowd, publicly humiliated and then slowly and painfully tortured to death.

On the cross, he even faced the absolute despair of feeling abandoned by God, the Father who had always been there for him. Yet even at that point of despair, he declared his trust in the Father, prayed that his killers should be forgiven, and thought of those closest to him.

If anyone had the right to believe that life was futile, that his work, his ministry, was in the end made pointless by the end of his life, it was Jesus.  

Jesus walked the path of despair, went to the very depths, and there did not despair, and  death was defeated.

The resurrection of Jesus returned hope and joy to his disciples, the men who had deserted him, the women who witnessed the crucifixion. They heard the angel say ‘He is risen, he is not here’. Mary heard Jesus call her name, the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognised him when they broke bread with him, Peter, who had denied him, spoke with the risen Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and knew he was forgiven, Thomas had his doubts answered.

They then had joy restored, courage renewed, and went to tell the good news to the world.

What is that good news? That God in Jesus loves us, died for us, and is risen from the dead. If we believe that life is futile and pointless then we can despair, and turn away from others, turn away from love, and take the path of hate. The good news is that we have a choice. The choice to follow the path of Jesus, who rose from the dead. We can follow the path of love, serve others, work for peace and mercy. Think of the work of Caritas, the church’s international aid agency, in supporting the thousands of innocent victims of war in Ukraine and Gaza. In Holy Family parish in Gaza, the sisters of the various communities, and a priest, were caring for 700 displaced people, including 100 children and another 70 disabled children and adults with various neurologic and birth disorders.

The sister principal of a Catholic school in Gaza said that it would be logistically impossible to move the elderly, children, sick and those with disabilities. She explained: “We will not go and leave our people. We are here to accompany them; we cannot possibly abandon them.”

I can’t find out what has happened to them since the start of Lent, but we know that love was there.

The presence of Christians working for others in the middle of war, of the followers of Christ in Australia supporting the homeless, those doing it tough, these show our faith that resurrection happens, that life is not futile, that pain, despair and death are not the end.We rejoice at Easter because we know that Christ is risen, that life triumphed over death, love triumphed over despair. Let’s all reject fear and live with joy, confident that the love of God, made visible in the risen Christ, is always with us.

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