Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Editor’s note: This homily was given at an Easter vigil Mass on March 30.

Surely this is the longest liturgy of the Word that we have during our whole church year, and you might think it would be a merciful thing if there were no homily. But the book says that the celebrant is to give a homily, so we have to do something. It’s certainly worth it to spend just a few moments reflecting on all that we have heard tonight, but especially on the Gospel lesson, which climaxes everything that has led up to it.

One thing to notice, of course, is how those disciples of Jesus — these very faithful women and all of the other disciples, too, the ones who had fled and didn’t stay with him right to the end like the women did — to reflect on how none of them expected this. They were stunned when they came to the tomb and the body wasn’t there. In Mark’s Gospel, this account tells how the women were just so frightened, they ran away, and there’s no account of their going to the disciples and telling them what they experienced, but eventually they did. So the women were the first ones to proclaim the good news about Jesus, the good news that he had actually told them about, as Luke says tonight, but they had somehow not taken that in,­ that yes, he was to die, but that he would rise from the dead. It’s such an extraordinary idea, and it’s such an almost incomprehensible notion,­ that someone dies but comes to new life

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