Bishop O'Connell Easter Sunday homily

July 29, 2019 at 12:37 p.m.

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.

Homily delivered by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.
on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012
St. Vincent de Paul Church, Yardville 

Jesus of Nazareth lived most of his life in obscurity without much notoriety or attention paid to him. The Gospels tell us about his Birth in Bethlehem and, later, about his appearance in the temple at age twelve.  Other than that, the Gospels are largely silent about Jesus of Nazareth until he appears before John the Baptist in the Jordan and begins his public ministry around the age of thirty. Those hidden years of Jesus’ life leave everything to the imagination and to speculation. And while that is true of Jesus of Nazareth, it is not true of the Messiah, the Christ.  A thousand years or more of Old Testament writings and traditions kept the Messiah before their minds and in their hopes and expectations. 

It is the New Testament, especially the Gospels, that connect all that was planned and foretold about the Messiah with Jesus of Nazareth.  And the events of Holy Week have made that abundantly clear.

The week began with Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem and continued with his celebration of Passover with the twelve apostles.  The week ended with his brutal Crucifixion and Death. The Church’s liturgy for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday painted the picture in a most dramatic way and they led us to Jesus’ tomb. Although Jesus was an “unknown” for most of his life, he certainly attracted enough attention in his last three years to lift people’s hopes that the Messiah had come and the Messiah was he!  But when he died in a most humiliating way, the hopes of his followers that he was anything but the Messiah were dashed …  But that was not the end of the story.

John’s Gospel tells us today that when the women came to the tomb in which Jesus was buried, the stone was rolled back; his body was not there; the tomb was empty. “He has been raised, he is not here” they were told by the angel. Jesus of Nazareth is Jesus the Christ, the Messiah --- everything that had been said and predicted about him had been fulfilled, had come true.  

My sisters and brothers, the Lord Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.  That is what we celebrate today and is what joins us with baptized Christians throughout the world. Shortly, you will renew your baptismal commitment. 

For all of us here Easter is the heart of our faith --- its life, its breath, its everything. There is no more significant human expression than faith in Jesus’ Resurrection. He didn’t just die and come back to life. He was not revived or resuscitated. Jesus’ Resurrection is about new life, transformed life, a completely different order of existence. He rose from the dead leaving death behind him. The tomb is empty. This is about glory and triumph. “Christ once raised from the dead shall never die again; death has no more power over him.” And the source of our joy today is that he offers the same triumph and glory to us who believe in him.  That is the meaning of our Baptism when we say we die in Christ only to rise in him, new, changed, different, filled with grace and light and life.

Easter is that moment in the history of the world when the world was changed forever: changed by an obscure Jesus of Nazareth who lived and died but who rose to new life, Jesus Christ the Messiah of God!  Alleluia!  Amen!

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Homily delivered by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.
on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012
St. Vincent de Paul Church, Yardville 

Jesus of Nazareth lived most of his life in obscurity without much notoriety or attention paid to him. The Gospels tell us about his Birth in Bethlehem and, later, about his appearance in the temple at age twelve.  Other than that, the Gospels are largely silent about Jesus of Nazareth until he appears before John the Baptist in the Jordan and begins his public ministry around the age of thirty. Those hidden years of Jesus’ life leave everything to the imagination and to speculation. And while that is true of Jesus of Nazareth, it is not true of the Messiah, the Christ.  A thousand years or more of Old Testament writings and traditions kept the Messiah before their minds and in their hopes and expectations. 

It is the New Testament, especially the Gospels, that connect all that was planned and foretold about the Messiah with Jesus of Nazareth.  And the events of Holy Week have made that abundantly clear.

The week began with Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem and continued with his celebration of Passover with the twelve apostles.  The week ended with his brutal Crucifixion and Death. The Church’s liturgy for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday painted the picture in a most dramatic way and they led us to Jesus’ tomb. Although Jesus was an “unknown” for most of his life, he certainly attracted enough attention in his last three years to lift people’s hopes that the Messiah had come and the Messiah was he!  But when he died in a most humiliating way, the hopes of his followers that he was anything but the Messiah were dashed …  But that was not the end of the story.

John’s Gospel tells us today that when the women came to the tomb in which Jesus was buried, the stone was rolled back; his body was not there; the tomb was empty. “He has been raised, he is not here” they were told by the angel. Jesus of Nazareth is Jesus the Christ, the Messiah --- everything that had been said and predicted about him had been fulfilled, had come true.  

My sisters and brothers, the Lord Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.  That is what we celebrate today and is what joins us with baptized Christians throughout the world. Shortly, you will renew your baptismal commitment. 

For all of us here Easter is the heart of our faith --- its life, its breath, its everything. There is no more significant human expression than faith in Jesus’ Resurrection. He didn’t just die and come back to life. He was not revived or resuscitated. Jesus’ Resurrection is about new life, transformed life, a completely different order of existence. He rose from the dead leaving death behind him. The tomb is empty. This is about glory and triumph. “Christ once raised from the dead shall never die again; death has no more power over him.” And the source of our joy today is that he offers the same triumph and glory to us who believe in him.  That is the meaning of our Baptism when we say we die in Christ only to rise in him, new, changed, different, filled with grace and light and life.

Easter is that moment in the history of the world when the world was changed forever: changed by an obscure Jesus of Nazareth who lived and died but who rose to new life, Jesus Christ the Messiah of God!  Alleluia!  Amen!

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