In his homily at the Easter Vigil Mass at St Chad’s cathedral Archbishop Bernard Longley began by showing how through the readings from the Old Testament [read at the Vigil] we have accompanied the Jewish people in their longing for the Messiah. The Archbishop explained that: ‘Their long journey of faith, still searching for the promised land where the Lord’s anointed will reign, echoes our own pilgrimage of faith as we continue to search with longing eyes for Christ in the midst of our own darkness.’
It is in reading the Old Testament that we glimpse the glimmer of light grow more bright as the prophets and seers of old pointed with increasing brightness to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. We owe the Jewish people, our elder brother in faith, a debt of gratitude, for God choosing them to be the people through whom the revelation of his love would become a reality for us to see in Christ.
Archbishop Bernard said: ‘In the darkness of our Vigil we have kindled a flame – carried the Paschal candle in procession with the light of Christ before us. We have acknowledged the risen Lord as the true source of light for the world and as the one for whom we all long, for whom we have been created with eyes that are searching for him.’
A sense of restlessness and longing is a recurring theme in St Mark’s account of the resurrection of Jesus. St Mark captures this beautifully in the devotion of the women who went to the tomb ‘just as the son was rising.’
Archbishop Bernard said: ‘We can sympathise with the three women – what they saw dazzled them and they needed time to absorb its meaning. They were perplexed on seeing the stone, they were struck with amazement at seeing the young man, and they ran away from the tomb because they were frightened out of their wits; and they said nothing to a soul, for they were afraid. Longing eyes are not always ready for what they see and need time to discern its meaning.’
With the same longing hearts four catechumens entered the waters of baptism and four Christians from traditions entered into full communion with the Catholic Church through the anointing of Confirmation.
Archbishop Bernard concluded his sermon with an exhortation that having gazed on the light of the wood of the cross at the Easter fire and Paschal candle, this same light illuminates the recesses of our own souls and the presence of Christ becomes ever more radiant within us. He said: ‘It is a light that will shine forever, beyond our fears and disappointments, beyond our suffering and sadness and infinitely beyond the shadow of the grave. May the light of the risen Christ continue to burn brightly within us these fifty days of Easter and beyond.’
To read the Archbishop’s homily in full please click here: EASTER VIGIL 2015