Whatever crises we face in life, the risen Jesus can heal these if only we put our faith in Him, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP told a crowded St Mary’s Cathedral on Easter Sunday morning.
The cathedral was filled with nearly 1600 worshippers sitting either in the main nave or – as in similar ceremonies throughout the Easter Triduum – watching on television screens from the Crypt below the floor of the main aisle or from outside the cathedral on a fine autumn morning.
Easter Vigil gallery
The previous evening almost 1000 people attended the Vigil Mass celebrating Christ’s resurrection.
Individuals become Catholics
Sydney woman Belinda Hedges was baptised and confirmed by Archbishop Anthony Fisher during the Vigil Mass as she entered the Church, later receiving her First Holy Communion in a ceremony, which had earlier seen the darkened cathedral flooded with candlelight from candles held by worshippers as a symbol of their faith in the light of the Resurrection.
Ms Hedges chose the baptismal names of Ambrose and Elizabeth for her reception into the Church.
She was one of around 160 individuals received into the Church in parishes across the Archdiocese this Easter.
Gallery: Belinda chooses the Church
A big Easter at Auburn
At St John of God Parish in Auburn, six people were baptised, eight received their First Holy Communion and Confirmation and one received the Sacrament of Confirmation – 15 in all.
At St Mary’s, both the Vigil and Easter Sunday attendances continued the trend of large numbers of worshippers returning to Easter services following more than a year of lockdowns and harsh restrictions, especially on churches and places of worship by governments and health authorities.
“God loves us so much, that whatever our own crises of faith, hope and love these can be faced, healed and transcended by His grace. Come out of the tomb with me, Jesus says to all humanity today, Rise up to everlasting life and love!,” the Archbishop reminded worshippers on Easter Sunday morning.
The Resurrection trumps all crises
His homily continued the theme of crisis and apparent crisis throughout the world over the last year, which he referred to in his homilies for Good Friday’s Commemoration of the Passion and the Easter Vigil.
However, he reminded the crowds flocking to services and masses at the Cathedral, the various crises of faith, hope and love that Easter represents are all resolved and turned into something new by Christ’s victory over death and sin in His Resurrection.
In fact, Easter represents the greatest love story ever told – that between God and human beings, he said on Sunday morning.
A cosmos just for us – and God
God had created the entire cosmos for humanity, “for us to live and learn in, play and delight in, a universe in which to be lovers and beloved, God’s darlings. This same divine obsession holds us in being every moment of our existence,” he said.
However, humanity’s rejection of God’s will had changed everything, he said.
“The crisis in the Kingdom of God, a crisis of all humanity, is that we turned against the very love that creates and sustains us. This fall from grace has been a recurrent pattern ever since, so that there’s nothing original about sin anymore. Recent campaigns have focused our attention on systemic racism and sexual violence. But pride, envy, lust, brutality and selfishness have dogged our history. Almost from the beginning there were elements of tragedy in this love story.”
‘Only divine love can do this’
Human beings had become both victims and perpetrators in a world fallen from knowing God.
Only a divine love could persist in the face of humanity’s indifference and rejection to the point of killing God’s Son, he noted, while the experience of the Resurrection by the holy women and the apostles proved the eternal truth and relevance of God’s love.
Following Sunday morning’s Mass, Archbishop Fisher was joined by cathedral clergy in distributing Easter eggs to everyone – with a special focus on the young.
With the conclusion of Sunday Mass, the first ‘normal’ Easter in at least two years was concluded.