Homily for Easter Saturday
Sr Anne Morris dhs
Thirty six years ago I made final vows as a Daughter of the Holy Spirit. All those years ago I would never, in my wildest dreams, have thought that I would be doing what I am doing, which includes accompanying a Chapter for the Presentation Brothers. I account it a privilege to be here with you. There’s something of that “never in my wildest dreams” in today’s first reading from Acts. Two fishermen, Peter and John, “uneducated laymen” as they are described by the scribes and elders, are performing miracles with assurance and confidence. Never, in their “wildest dreams” would they have envisaged, just a few years earlier, that they would have being doing anything else other than fishing. Between the reading from Acts and the Gospel from Mark, we have after and before, a vignette of what they would become and how they were before.
In the Gospel, Mark describes one of the few occasions when Jesus gives his disciples a telling off. “He reproached them”, we are told, “for their incredulity and obstinacy… refusing to believe those who had seen him after he had risen”. It’s rare that we hear Jesus taking this tone with his followers. He’s normally the patient teacher who occasionally had to resort to saying, “Have I been with you all this time and you still do not understand?” I find it curiously comforting that Jesus, even the risen Jesus could get exasperated! There is hope for us. It reminds us that he was like us in all things but sin.
Frustrated and annoyed with them he may be but he still gives them their mission. “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News”. Inadequate thought they may be for the task; he asks them at this low point to do just that. They are still encumbered by fear and I was reminded of Catherine’s definition yesterday of fear – False Expectations Appearing Real – but it’s these same hesitant, fearful men who appear in Acts carrying out a miracle with such authority and confidence that it has the authorities worried.
What can we take from these readings for ourselves at this point in the Chapter? Quite simply, no matter how humble our beginnings, or inadequate to the task we may feel, the Lord confides a mission to us. However, we actually carry this out, be it in teaching or pastoral work, formation or administration, the mission remains the same. “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News”, wherever your bit of the world happens to be. Some of you are having to discern at this time if that mission is to be carried out in a different place as part of the leadership team of the Congregation. Surely you will be experiencing a mixture of feelings; affirmed that your Brothers have asked you but also anticipating the cost of what such responsibility will demand. Perhaps the Lord has to give you a bit of a talking to? But his mission will remain constant. Go out and proclaim the Good News. What will make the difference is the giving of his Spirit. It’s that which makes the difference between the telling off in the Gospel scene in Mark and the miracle that has taken place in Acts. Jesus has poured out his Spirit on them and given them the gifts they need. Never doubt that he will pour out his Spirit afresh any time we need it. We will always be given what we need for the mission. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you”.