Ampleforth Abbey

14 December 2017

Easter Monday 2017

Homily given by Fr Gabriel Everitt, this year's Triduum retreat giver, at the Conventual Mass on Easter Monday morning.

(Image: detail from a fresco by Giotto, 14th century - click here for the full image and more details)

I welcome you to this Mass this morning on behalf of Fr Abbot, of Fr Prior, who has presided our celebration of Easter, and of all the monastic community. We thank you for being here for these days, because the truth is that we would have had a poor celebration of Easter here without you and I assure you of our prayers for you as you return home and for the time ahead.

Some of you have been hearing this voice now speaking to you rather a lot over the past days. The voice itself is rather ready for a break, and you may be too. So conscious of this, and of approaching departures, it seems a certain brevity will be best all round.

In the gospel for Easter Monday we hear the words of the risen Jesus to the women, running from the tomb ‘with awe and great joy’. Jesus himself, once dead, now raised, meets them and while they clasp his feet he says ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there’.

In echo of previous preachers on this day, I warm to the reference to Galilee, which was home for his disciples. From the experience of Easter we go home. In many ways it is good to go home, but I know you face difficulties and challenges there too, that will not necessarily have gone away. At the end of today’s gospel there is a reference to the fact that the leaders of the people were enemies to the first proclamation of the Christian gospel. We can have enemies without and fears within. Actually the monastic community does not get to stay in Jerusalem either: term begins again this week and we too face difficulties and challenges. Please pray for us as we do for you.

'In the Galilee of our daily lives we will find faith as well as some doubt, this is the usual way, but in our own way we too may see him and worship. We have been given ways to do this in Word and Sacrament.'

But remember Jesus says: go, leave for Galilee, you will see me there. We go to find the risen Jesus. And more than find. When St Matthew in fact comes to tell of this right at the end of his gospel he says ‘When they saw him [that is in Galilee, in their homeland] they worshipped him but some doubted’. In the Galilee of our daily lives we will find faith as well as some doubt, this is the usual way, but in our own way we too may see him and worship. We have been given ways to do this in Word and Sacrament.

But I want to look in particular at one phrase from the saying of Jesus in today’s Gospel: ‘they will see me’. This is the promise of Jesus to his disciples and it is also his promise to us, always a little bit in front of us, ‘You will see me’. It is a strong word, this future and assured ‘will’.

The last word of St Benedict’s Rule is ‘Amen’. The penultimate word in Latin is ‘pervenies’ – literally to come through I take it and it might be translated ‘you will arrive’ or ‘you will reach’. The context at the end of the Rule is ‘Are you hastening towards your heavenly home? Then, with Christ’s help, keep this little rule that we have written for beginners. After that you can set out for the loftier summits … and under God’s protection you will reach them’. Again a strong word, this future and assured ‘will’.

So let us not be afraid, but rather go forward in faith and trust. St Benedict’s promise to us is ‘you will come through, you will reach, you will arrive’. Christ’s promise is ‘you will see me’.