March 26, 2016 – Homily for the Great Vigil of Easter – Mtr. Kathryn Boswell
We’ve come a long way together this week. Thursday night we gathered together around the table with our Lord, and we heard his parting instructions to us. “I’m going away,” he said, “and I’m leaving you in charge. And here’s what you need to do. Love one another, just like I have loved you, just like I will always love you.”
Last night we followed Jesus into the darkest part of his Passion, all the way to the cross. In the midst of the pain and grief of his death we heard him speak words of comfort: forgiveness, mercy, grace, love – and at the last, triumph over sin and trust in the Father. And we left in the silence of the tomb.
But tonight – tonight we come with the good, faithful women, with Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the others, their arms loaded down with spices and ointments, and their hearts loaded down with sorrow and weariness. We come back to the tomb where Jesus was laid, but there’s nothing there! The stone is rolled away and the light of dawn is streaming in to the tomb, but nothing else is there but a pile of linens, neatly folded, and a couple of angels hanging around to shed some light on the situation – literally and figuratively. “He’s not here,” they told the terrified women. “Don’t you remember, he told you this would happen. He is risen, just like he said!”
And then it’s all happy chaos – the women running with joy to tell the men, and the men thinking the women were out of their minds – until Peter went to see for himself. The long night was ended, and the dawn had come, and the world would never be the same.
One of the math-y things that Carroll does is to work proofs. It’s a lot of work and a little bit like magic – you fill the blackboard with a torturous lot of symbols and equations and at the very end you get an elegant little statement that is true, something you can trust, something you can take out for a spin, something you can use to do stuff because you know it works. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate proof, proof that the principles of the world – power and control and violence and the survival of the fittest – those are non-starters. The empty tomb proves once and for all that that elegant little solution, love, was the real deal all along.
Love wins! Always and forever. That is our theorem as the people of Jesus Christ. As Pope Frances wrote in his Easter message:
This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy [has triumphed] over sinfulness, goodness [has triumphed] over evil, truth [has triumphed] over falsehood, life [has absolutely triumphed] over death.
That is why we tell everyone: “Come and see!” In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… “Come and see!”: Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.
Alleluia! The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!