Easter Homily – Fr Brendan Byrne SJ


Easter Sunday

Christos Anesti, Christ has risen”

As I grow older, I feel that more and more of our fellow citizens enjoy the Easter holiday from Good Friday through to Easter Monday without a thought as to what lies behind it. As I cycled through a very crowded City on Friday evening, it seemed like any other Friday, except that maybe the people were in a more celebratory mood because of the extended holiday.

So when we as people of faith gather as a community to commemorate the death of our Lord and, this morning, to celebrate his resurrection, we are doing something that’s increasingly unfashionable, counter-cultural even.

At the same time, we know that we are addressing the truths that are the foundation upon which our civic socity is built. If those truths and principles are forgotten, neglected, or ignored, our society will disintegrate into meanness, selfishness, lack of compassion and hope in the face of suffering, and widespread despair.

On Good Friday, we saw Jesus stand alone, betrayed and abandoned, to suffer an appalling death because the values to which his whole life and ministry gave expression challenged the prejudices and comfort of those in power in the situation of his time. He drew attention to the plight of the poor and said that they were particularly precious to God; he reached out to those on the margins: those with leprosy, foreigners like the Samaritans, widows; he healed on the Sabbath because he believed that the Sabbath was made for human beings and for enhancement of life, not the other way round; he threw money-changers out of the Temple because he believed that commerce, profit, should take second place to the true worship of God.

All these things made him deeply unpopular because they exposed the meanness of those whose comfort depended on leaving things as they were. Those who brought about the failure of justice that led his death, mocked him as hung upon the cross, because they thought they had finally got the upper hand, got rid of this troublemaker for good.

What we are celebrating this morning is that God had other plans. God wasn’t going to let his saving intervention into our world in the person of his Son come to nought. God raised Jesus from the dead and with that affirmed and vindicated all that he had died for.

The women, especially the heroic and faithful Mary Magdalene, and the male disciples who went to the tomb on Easter Sunday morning did not see the risen Lord—that would come later. What they found was a mysterious emptiness that at first caused them great distress. Not only have they lost, in a terrible way, their living Lord; now even his body has been taken from them before they could give it the rite of anointing prescribed in their Jewish culture.

Sometimes, however, an emptiness on the human side is precisely a sign and indication that God has taken over and is at work in a wonderful, divine way.

So this emptiness in the tomb is not a barren or devastating emptiness. It is not a sign that grave robbers or the authorities in some further exercise of cruelty have removed Jesus’ body. It is a sign, as the angel explains, that Jesus has been raised from the dead on the third day, exactly as he had foretold.

There is plenty of cause for emptiness in our hearts at the present time: the pandemic lingers and leaves few lives untouched. Above all, the terrible news from Ukaine and the revived threat of even nuclear exchange does cast us down—not to mention more personal experiences of loss and absence of loved ones around the Easter table.

The disciples who experienced the emptiness of Jesus’ tomb soon discovered that it was an emptiness that God had filled in a wonderful way when they met the risen Lord. They became, as the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles assures us, the witnesses to the fact that he has been raised. They spread that message and the hope that it brought around their world. From them it passed on down the generations, right down to us. For our Greek brothers and sisters it has become a greeting, Christos anesti, “Christ has risen”. When they meet each other, they say, “Christos anesti”, a wonderful way of sharing and reinforcing their common faith.

But Easter for us is more than simply a belief that Christ has been raised. It is a commitment to a way of life that reflects the values for which he lived, died, and was raised by God. That is what we affirm when, in place of reciting the Creed, we recite our baptismal vows. Our baptism commits us to live as individuals and in community the life we have in Christ, allowing his divine love to well up within us and find expression in our lives.

So, although many, perhaps most, of our fellow citizens will enjoy the Easter holiday, with little or no appreciation of what it is all about, we who are here this morning can sustain them with our faith, bearing witness by the way we live and speak, that “Christos Anesti, Christ has risen”—and in that lies hope.


Brendan Byrne, SJ

St James, Hoppers Crossing North,

17 April, 2022

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Easter Message

Easter isn’t ‘once upon a time’; it’s here and now, or nowhere and never. That’s why it is never in a vacuum.

This year we lit the Easter fire in unusually dark times.  First, we had the pandemic everywhere, and that seemed bad enough.  Lives were lost, the social fabric frayed, and the economy was hit hard. We saw the powers of death at work in ways we’d never seen before. Then we had the floods in the northern region of our nation. Again lives were lost, homes were destroyed and property devastated. On top of all that we know we have the genocidal war in Ukraine, with world peace looking more fragile than it’s looked for a long time. The powers of death which so ravaged Europe in the last century have returned in a horrific way.

Here, then, is the context of this year’s Easter celebrations.

As we gathered to light the Easter fire in the darkness, we proclaimed that out of the pandemic, the floods and the war, new life can come and has come, just as Jesus walked from the tomb into every time and place. Amidst all the challenges it can be hard to live with hope.  It can be hard to notice where Christ is at work amid all the suffering. Yet in the face of darkness, there is life.

I see the hope of Easter in communities of believers who seek God’s reign. In those whose daily life bears witness to the risen Christ.

I see Easter hope when I hear about ordinary people who have opened their homes to refugees from Ukraine and other places, and so many who are calling for peace.

I see Easter hope in the volunteers and parishioners who every day seek to bring hope to others in their commitment to care for the poor, acting with kindness and compassion, accompanying those who are sorrowing, suffering or despairing, confronting evil, working for justice, healing creation and finding beauty.

I see Easter faith in communities that seek justice and repair for creation. In our young people who call for action because they feel responsible for the generations to come.

I see Easter hope in the catechumens and candidates who joined our faith community this year and who responded to God’s call in encountering Jesus in their lives.

This is a faith that takes seriously death, evil and suffering.  A faith that forms the community to resist evil and comfort the suffering.  A faith that through the body of the risen Christ, seeks the transformation of the world for abundant life.

On behalf of the Parish Pastoral Council, Fr Silvio, Fr Brendan and Dcn Royden, may the Risen Lord bless and protect us as we embrace the power of life in the face of darkness; revealed to us in Christ’s self-giving love, reflected in the daily acts of mercy, faith, joy and love.

Go gently in the Risen Lord & a very happy and blessed Easter to you and yours.

Fr Jude Pirotta mssp


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Easter Thank Yous

May I take this opportunity to thank Father Silvio, Fr Brendan, Dcn Royden, the Parish Pastoral Council and the Parish Staff. Thank you to our many parishioners, including our young parishioners, who have so generously given of their time and talents to assist us to celebrate our holy week and Easter liturgies prayerfully and enabling us to be immersed in the beauty of these great liturgies.

Thank you also to Kevin Lloyd and our Ushers who have enabled us to worship in an organized and dignified manner. Thank you the Altar Servers, Carpenter’s Club, Environment Helpers (both outside and inside the Church), those involved in Music Ministry, Liturgical Ministers, Counters, Music Ministry RCIA Team, the Cleaning Ministry, the Samoan Community, the Young Paulists, the Youth Ministry members, those who donated palm and olive branches, people working behind the scenes and all who have been involved.

We say a heartfelt thank you to all; we couldn’t manage without you.

Fr Jude Pirotta


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