Reflection for Easter Vigil

Continuing the theme of this Holy Week, the words of John Paul II highlight the richness of Aboriginality, “The establishment of a new society for Aboriginal people cannot go forward without just and mutually recognized agreements with regard to these human problems. You, the Aboriginal people, must show that you are actively working for your own dignity of life. You must show that you can walk tall and command the respect which every human being expects to receive from the rest of the human family. The Gospel of Jesus speaks all languages. It embraces all cultures. It uplifts and it and enriches cultures with the revealed message of a loving and a merciful God. The old ways can draw new life and strength from the Gospels. As you draw the beauty of your culture you come to realize more and more your great human and therefore Christian dignity. You will realize that the courage is innately inside you when you listen to the God of your dreamtime speaking to you in the words of the prophet ‘I have called you by your name, do not be afraid, you are mine and I am always with you.” We, your white brothers and sisters, share with you the Christ story and we give to one another the courage to bring that mission home.”

The Easter homily, we are told should always be brief, for when we are dealing with something as mysterious as the resurrection, words will never do. We can never capture what happened at Easter. It is the hardest thing in life to believe that there is life after death. Yet it is the most wonderful. There is no proof, only belief.

The Gospels never intended to prove that Jesus was raised from the dead. The four Gospels all have differing accounts and they contradict each other. They were confused, not knowing how to describe what happened.

The first Gospel was written 80 years after the event. They were not written for people who didn’t know Jesus but for those who accepted the Jesus mystery into their lives. It was not a matter of proof but a reflection on what it should mean in their lives. What we take home is how God can enter into our lives in unexpected ways, giving us courage to live and share the good news.

The search for truth can never stop. It can’t be postponed. It has to be faced. That was what Christ did, a dying man reaching up for others, but finding no one there, finding only shadows, a lost figure in a dying landscape, unable to escape the doom that seemed to belong only to others. The resurrection of Jesus can never be a denial of death.

We have seen too many tombs in our own lives to know that our sorrows and those of our neighbours are not transient. The genocide in Darfur, the death of Iraqui civilians, the draconian I.R. laws in this country, the advent of a neo-McCarthyism and last and perhaps most importantly the ruthless and mindless destruction of our indigenous heritage, the oldest culture known to mankind—all of these events appall us.

We really know that human life is framed with public tragedy and each of us has known indescribable agony and pain. It is here that the mystery of the resurrection has meaning. It is not moving away from the experience and the reality of suffering but rather compassionately holding it so that God’s power to raise new life directs us. I am convinced that our world and our nation can only be saved by people with the compassion of the Christ figure.

The Resurrection is so full of meaning in all facets of our lives. Let me conclude with a metaphor used by the Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter in his acceptance speech. “If we look into a mirror we think the image is accurate, move an inch away and the image changes. We see a never ending array of images and reflections. What must be done is to smash the mirror. It is only on the other side of the mirror that truth stares at us”. It is precisely here that working with such a metaphor we are able to comprehend in some way the Christ mystery. This is ultimately the mystery of Resurrection, the supreme mystery of our faith.

John Hill
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