Archbishop Patrick Kelly celebrated the Easter Vigil and First Mass of Easter in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. His introduction and homily are below:
Introduction and Homily preached by the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool at the Easter Vigil and First Mass of Easter. 3 April 2010 at 9.00 pm in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.
What is possible when betrayed, cowardice, malice, cruelty have scourged, crucified, pierced? What is possible from a stone, cold, tomb? Were the words of Isaiah we made our own here in the strange silence of Holy Saturday the last word on the subject: ‘The abode of the dead cannot thank you: death cannot praise you’.
Surely, humanly speaking, with all the resources at our own disposal, hell consumes definitively anyone who goes there in darkness, chaos, slavery, despairing the answer of this night is: darkness the powers of Hell, embraced by love and mercy, give way to a candle’s gentle ray. Death freely accepted for our salvation, met with patience and the resources of a Lamb of God shall yield life: rejection in cruelty and barbarism met with mercy and forgiveness, shall transform wounds until they only flow with a Spirit to renew the earth by pouring into even hard hearts, the new life of love. This is the gift of this night.
‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’ So we will find him not among the living and partly living but among the living. And Caroline Ann Francis, Alan, Irene and Claudia Bell, Hazel Swann, Chiwueze Ihebuzor and Richard Anakin are living: they have followed in Cardinal Newman’s ever-living words portraying his own journey: O kindly light: kindly light of friends and family: kindly light of another’s love: kindly light in all three of the Holy Spirit, ‘over moor and pen, or crag and torrent, till the night is gone’. And with the dawn of Easter angel faces smile as they know the waters of re-birth, the Spirit of power and love and self-control, and recognise and welcome in communion with us all the Risen Lord Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Caroline Anne Francis, Alan, Irene and Claudia Bell, Hazel Swann, Chiwueze Ihebuzor and Richard Anakin are the living: we find him here among them.
We seek him among the living: and the living are those, look around and see them for whom Lent has been, in the words of Pope Benedict’s Lenten message, ‘a time of authentic communion and intense knowledge of the mystery of Christ’. And we discovered in our Lenten journey that ‘Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-suffering’.
So at the ninth hour on the Friday of all others alone called Good we kissed his cross: became what we sang here on Sunday in Cardinal Newman’s profession of faith:
‘Simply to his grave and wholly,
Light and life and strength belong,
And I love supremely, solely,
Him the holy, him the strong.’
We are the living who have been faithful to the herald voice of John the Baptist: ‘Behold the Lamb of God’, We are the living who come to satisfy our deepest thirst by the streams of life which is charity, pure gift, sure salvation and healing, flowing from his pierced side: we are alive who are convinced: I am called to enter ‘his wounded side where, ever to abide, will always be to move and to be moved by love’.
We are the living and we find him here among us.
We seek him among the living: and the living are the whole Cathedral community who surrender themselves to ‘the Paschal Triduum, in which this year, too, we celebrate the fullness of charity, gift, salvation’. Security, cleaning, vestments flowers, printing, music, organisation, welcoming, anxiety, frustrations, panic, fun, the ridiculous: and all rooted in prayer and all for Jesus: to enable all who draw near to acclaim Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. The Metropolitan Cathedral is alive: we are the living: we find our Risen, radiant, laughing, daring singing Lord here.