Mass of the Easter Vigil
30 March 2013
St. Macartan’s Cathedral, 8.00pm
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Malcolm Muggeridge was a well-known figure in England half a century ago. He was a celebrity of his time – wit, broadcaster, writer and at one time editor of the famous British satirical magazine Punch. His life took an unusual turn in unexpected circumstances. He went to do a programme on Mother Teresa of Calcutta and was bowled over. Inspired by the presence and work of this saintly nun he began to take an interest in what made her what she was. He converted, became a Catholic and made a lot of adjustments to his life. He wrote many inspiring pieces including the following:
“As I approach my end, I find Jesus’ outrageous claim ever more captivating and meaningful. Quite often, waking up in the night as the old do, I feel myself to be half out of my body, hovering between life and death, with eternity rising in the distance. I see my ancient carcass, prone between the sheets, stained and worn like a scrap of paper dropped in the gutter and, hovering over it, myself, like a butterfly released from its chrysalis state and ready to fly away.
Are caterpillars told of their impending resurrection? How in dying they will be transformed from poor earth crawlers into creatures of the air with exquisitely painted wings? If told, do they believe it? I imagine the wise old caterpillars shaking their heads – no, it can’t be, it’s a fantasy. Yet in the limbo between living and dying, as the night clocks tick remorselessly on, and the black sky implacably shows not one single scratch of grey, I hear these words, “I am the resurrection” and I feel myself carried along on a great tide of joy and peace.”
If you were one of the women coming to the tomb on Easter Sunday morning, prepared to complete the ritual anointing of the body of Christ but instead found the tomb empty, how would you react? It would hardly be your first thought that his broken body had come back to life. Scripture tells us the women did find an empty tomb. The two figures in brilliant clothing confused them in the message they gave. The message was that Jesus had risen from the dead and that he was alive. They were not yet ready to connect what happened to what Jesus did and said during his time with them on earth.
Their uncertainty did not mean that they rejected the message of the angels; only that they did not yet comprehend it. That is understandable. If it was difficult for them to understand it is scarcely going to be easier for ourselves. We are being asked to live by faith rather than having the benefit of sight.
Malcolm Muggeridge ends his piece with an epitaph from an English Graveyard:
Remember man, as you walk by
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so shall you be,
Remember this and follow me.
Someone added two more lines:
To follow you I’ll not consent
Until I know which way you went.
Easter says we know which way Jesus went and where we can follow because of him. That is why we sing a joyful ‘Alleluia’ Happy Easter to you all.
+Liam S. MacDaid
30 March 2013