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Easter Sunday Homily from Bishop Denis

Easter Sunday Mass:                                                       12.04.20

KCLR Studio’s @ 9.30am


It’s Easter Sunday morning and we find ourselves alongside Mary Magdala, Simon Peter and the disciple Jesus loved at the tomb. It’s an anxious presence, like the first visit to the Cemetery after the funeral. A bit unsure what to do, what to say, where to look. Their uncertainty is compounded by the site that greeted these early tomb visitors … a stone removed; a cloth thrown to one side; an intrusion of a sacred space …

As we gather on this Easter morning, courtesy once again of KCLR, let’s pray for forgiveness …

  • Creator God, you gave us the sun, moon and stars, the days, months and years …           Lord, have mercy
  • Redeemer God, you gave us your Son, his message, his love – the cross, the resurrection and the ascension …           Christ, have mercy
  • Gracious God, you gave us the Spirit, the Church and it’s Charisms within – the gifts, the fruits and the diversity …           Lord, have mercy


My late father used to say that “Easter is early” or “Easter is late”. He was a farmer all his life and the timing of Easter seemed to dictate the growing of crops, the tilling of the soil, very much all the work of our creator God. And still we are conscious on Easter Sunday that we live somehow outside time, connected with people who have gone before us, events that have happened long before us, a kind of KAIROS moment.

People like Mary of Magdala, Simon Peter and John, the beloved disciple. Our Easter gospel never changes, it is taken from St. John every year, allowing us to run alongside Mary of Magdala, Simon Peter and John to see the empty tomb. The one who was born in a borrowed stable, who held his Last Supper in a borrowed room and who was buried in a borrowed grave, that borrowed grave is now empty, he has Risen!

I’m told that the last time the Holy Week ceremonies in Ireland were disrupted was in 1847, at the height of An Ghorta Mhór. Obviously, none of us remember then, but I feel we will all remember Holy Week 2020. Our famine today is most likely not food; we are purchasing and eating too much. Our famine is Eucharist, His body, His blood. And we never needed Eucharist as much as we need it now.

It was a Holy Week that we have been immersed in as never before. We are seeing before our eyes every night on television and on social media news feeds a global passion which began in Wuhan last December and has crept into almost every country of the world since. Already more have died in New York because of the virus, than on 9/11. Wasn’t the scene very poignant there during the week when trenches were being dug on Hart Island to bury victims of the virus.

Even Jesus was buried in haste, like so many of the victims of this coronavirus scourge, small gatherings are only permitted, immediate family and at times even some of them must absent themselves, for fear of cross contamination. It totally upends our rituals of dying, death and burial.

But Easter Sunday follows the starkness of Good Friday. What the three in the gospel encountered at the tomb completely transformed them and would in time transform all His immediate followers. The message was clear, what seemed like the absence of God in the garden at Gethsemane, at the scourging in Golgotha, on the hill at Calvary was anything but. God is always present where those He loves are suffering. God recognises our vulnerabilities, our inadequacies, our discomfort long before we come to terms with it ourselves.

And He is doing the same with us as we journey through this valley of darkness we have come to simply know as COVID-19. None of us are untouched by the threat looming from this deadly virus. But all the time through these past days of Holy Week, He has been carrying us, He has been by our side. And now on Easter morning, He promises us new life. The fact of the resurrection gives a great affirmation to our faith.

As we stand beside Mary of Magdala, Simon Peter and John at the empty tomb, we are reminded of the living presence of God, the Risen One who has conquered death. I know all of us have felt the Cross heavier this year than ever. Even the most confident and capable are that little bit more frightened. But we are an Easter people, and what unites us is our hope and reassurance in the resurrection, in the ultimate triumph of good over evil. As the late Fr. Seán Swayne might say: “In spite of everything, Alleluia is our song”.