Everyone remarks these days on how good it is to be able to gather. These past two years of restricted and curtailed ceremonies, in this most sacred week of the year, was very challenging. While we continue to emerge out of that more restricted period we are learning, now, what we must do to live alongside this pandemic. The mantra from health authorities has moved, positively, from ‘regulation’ to our taking on ‘personal responsibility’.
Our Chrism Mass, earlier this week, offered us the opportunity to gather in large numbers for the first time in three years. And we have continued to gather in those numbers for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and into the great Easter Vigil and Easter Day. Isn’t it great to gather, wonderful to see each other in a faith context again.
Today on Easter Sunday we gather at an empty tomb in the realisation that Jesus has risen: “Why look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not here; he has risen” (Lk.24:5), the two men tell the women as they gather at first light at the empty tomb. He is alive, then and now, and His life brings joy and hope to our Church.
During Lent we gathered in different groups, in different fora, as we took part in the Listening Lent on the Universal Synod journey on which Pope Francis has invited us. In those gatherings you honestly spoke about your joys, your pains, your hopes for the Church, your Church, our Church. These gatherings remind us of the importance of our listening to one another; as the women listened to the angels, and as the disciples listened to the women.
It is, we know, also very important to listen to the Risen Lord. Holy Week has offered us very tangible ways to experience our faith: the washing of the feet – our invitation to service; the veneration of the Cross – our invitation to reverence; the Easter Vigil fire – our invitation to be that light for one another.
Christ is our Light. His light comes from an empty tomb. A light that penetrates the darkness of war and the prevalence of evil in our world. A light that reminds us, we have nothing to fear. A light, in a world that is broken that offers hope. A light that illuminates a message we need now to hear.
As we gather, wherever we gather, may we put before the Risen Lord the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of our time in the knowledge that in Him all things are redeemed, all hope restored, and all life is made new.
Blessings for Easter,
Bishop Denis Nulty
Apostolic Administrator, Ossory