LOW SUNDAY SERMON    23 APRIL 2017

Exodus 14.1-end, 15.20-21; Ps 16; 1 Peter 1.3-9; John 20.19-end 

Preaching today, Low Sunday, is a bit of a challenge - it is bound to be an anti-climax after the amazing Easter celebrations and yet it is the day when Brethren of the  Community of the Resurrection try to celebrate the Resurrection together. Many CR Brothers are away for Holy Week and Easter helping in parishes; now we are all back.

The First Letter of Peter tells us that although “we haven’t seen him, we believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because we are receiving the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls”.

Easter Week is indeed the most exciting time to be alive, to be still alive, for who knows where we’ll be next Easter? Some still alive are experiencing Resurrection joy not just in a scholarly way or in the imagination. Not just imagining in our minds what it must have been like  for Jesus’s pals to be there, rather apprehensively, together in Jerusalem but actually immersed in joy like when they see Him, eat and speak with Him – throughout this week, again and again we say: Christ is risen ! HE HAS RISEN INDEED.

Yes, he has !

Just as it was for his closest friends, we need something more than just being told He is Risen. Perhaps it is more difficult for us, who have celebrated quite a few Easters, seen them come and go time and again. We can be reduced to comparing variations in the way the Liturgy is celebrated in different years, here and in different places. “That was very effective”, we say, like connoisseurs of a play or a musical.

The twelve were his chosen friends. He laughed at them. Can a ghost eat and drink? Their temperaments varied a lot, just like the Brethrens’ do. Some of them knew it all. Thomas: Jesus laughs at him “Come here. Look at my hands.  If that isn’t enough, stick your hand right here into my side, just believe can’t you!”.

For a whole week, we have been exposed to the most forceful language, sung (well or badly), spoken in many different ways. “Just believe, can’t you”.

Yes, God our Father Creator can and does bring good out of the most appalling evil, pain, murderous cruelty, excruciating suffering. He’s done it once for all. He’s done it for all, for all of us, for all time.

Once for all, at the first Easter day, when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week .Once and for all.

If we are immersed in acid, we die in appalling pain. If immersed in joy, it is the opposite; we live in amazing joy. The word Easter is originally the name of a pagan dawn goddess, yet it has become a byeword for joy: Easter bonnets, Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, Easter chicks.  

Dying with Jesus in our penitence, we have died with him to sin. When you come down to basics, being immersed in joy right up to the neck, is what this week is about. 

Our life is changed. I do not know about you but I had almost forgotten my bitchy, hyper-critical self. Easter joy makes me feel and act lovingly to every one (for how long?). That is what being immersed in joy does. Remember walking down the street right up off the ground, after making the first Confession? That is being immersed in the joy of the Resurrection, because that joy is the experience of sins forgiven. Your and my sins forgotten, totally abolished. We can live in Community, under the same roofs, in Resurrection joy because the Lord has died for us all and risen for us all, once and for all.

Long may it last.

        Antony Grant CR