Easter Vigil (B) 4th April 2015

 Gospel: Mark 16:1-8

When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices with which to go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they went to the tomb, just as the sun was rising. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’

But when they looked they could see that the stone – which was very big – had already been rolled back. On entering the tomb they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right-hand side, and they were struck with amazement. But he said to them, ‘There is no need for alarm. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him. But you must go and tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him, just as he told you.”’ 

Often enough in life there are projects which we just cannot seem to get off the ground. There are obstacles at every turn and we cannot seem to solve them. Sometimes these situations are caused by bureaucratic problems, sometimes by the ill will of others and sometimes as a result of our own stupidity. Huge stones seem to block our path and stop us from doing what is desired or necessary. We need someone to clear the stones away. In such situations, the question which is posed to us is the same question that the women posed to themselves as they approached the tomb on the first Easter Sunday morning. “Who will roll away the stone for us…” To the surprise of the women, when they reached the tomb the stone had already been rolled away. The surprises did not end there however,

An even greater surprise awaited them, the tomb was empty and “a young man in a white robe seated on the right-hand side”, said to them: “There is no need for alarm. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him.

There is a consequence to the discovery of the empty tomb however, the women must not keep the good news for themselves; they now have to spread the good news of the Risen Lord to others. “…you must go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him, just as he told you’.”

The question which the women were asking among themselves was now answered. It was the risen Lord, the One they thought to be dead, the powerless One who rolled the stone away.

Many years ago, the death of God was a topic of theological discussion. As a topic of discussion, this subject did not have a very long life but in the reality of life, we sometimes act as if God does not exist. We often seem to think that because of the great inventions and the progress of technology that human beings can do and decide everything. We decide who should be born and who not; we decide who has lived long enough and who not. We have put ourselves in the place of God and yet there are so many things which we cannot do, so many things which we do not know, so many things for which we depend on God. The tragedy for humanity is that so many persons are not aware of this.

It is for this reason that recent popes have been calling for a new evangelisation, an evangelisation which is “new in fervour, new in methods, and new in expression”. The aim of this new evangelisation is for the Good News to be known and accepted, i.e. the Good News of a loving and merciful God who intervened in human history, whom they killed and thought they had destroyed but who now lives and intervenes in human history again, not only on a cosmic scale but in our personal lives, rolling away stones which block our progress. This was the Good News which the three women brought to the apostles and disciples: “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him. But you must go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him, just as he told you’.

This is the Good News which we, the present day disciples of Jesus, now have to spread to all with whom we come into contact. We will not be able to do this unless we have an experience in our personal lives of the Christ who rolls stones away.

There are many stones which block progress in our lives in the many dimensions of human life, blockages which must be removed if we are to attain the full development of the human person. At times in our own lives and in the lives of others, these stones appear to be immovable as the stone sealing the tomb appeared to be to the women. It is at times like these that we call on the Risen Lord who under his own power rolled the stone away from the tomb. My dear friends, Jesus lives; He will roll stones away if we ask Him and if rolling the particular stone away is good for us and will help with our eternal salvation.

LET US PRAY

All powerful and ever-loving God we thank you for your Son Jesus who because he rose to new life rolled the stone away from the tomb leaving it empty. Because of that empty tomb the women and the disciples knew that Christ lives. Very often Father, our way is blocked by huge stones, barriers which appear to be immovable. Help us to roll those stones away so that we may experience your Son as risen and alive. Roll away especially those stones which block our progress in the spiritual life so that we may live fully and one day attain the salvation which your Son won for us by his death on the cross. We ask this through the intercession of Mary our mother and the women and through Jesus your Son who rolls stones away. Amen.