On Monday, 17th April 2017, the day after Easter Sunday, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna celebrated mass with the Missionaries of Charity and their volunteers in Cospicua.
Homily by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna
Missionaries of Charity Sisters, Cospicua
19th April 2017
I would like to share a very short reflection inspired by today’s prayer and readings. Today’s reading from the Gospel continues on the Gospel we read at the Easter vigil. This year it was the turn of Matthew to give us the narrative of the resurrection.
In Matthew, the resurrection narrative, the story of the Resurrection is very simple. The women go to the tomb and there is an earthquake. An angel rolls the big huge stone covering the entrance to the tomb and the angel tells them: “What are you looking for? You are looking for Jesus who was crucified? He is not here, he is risen” and he tells them “go to the disciples and they will meet in Galilee”.
Today’s gospel (Mt 28, 8-15) continues the narrative by saying that when they were going, they meet Jesus and Jesus greets. Interestingly enough in the Greek original, Jesus repeats the same greeting the angel Gabriel used to greet Mary “Hail”. So it is really peace, mercy and blessing on you, and that is his first greeting on Easter Sunday. And then “do not be afraid”. I think these two words of Jesus as he is risen should remain with us. First of all the greeting of peace, mercy and embracing love, we say “Hail Mary” and we say ‘hail’. Interestingly enough, some gospel translations, do not bring this greeting as the Greek does but then “do not be afraid”. Remember that also the angle says to Mary: “do not be afraid”. It’s as if the Church needs to believe in order to become the Mother of Jesus. And so as the angel was telling Mary “you are full of grace, the mercy of God be with you, do not be afraid”, the Lord needs to tell this to his community now, the mercy, compassion, the love of the Lord is with you, do not be afraid because you as a community need to become mothers of so many other Christians.
This is what happened at the Easter vigil when the Church begets sons and daughters for Jesus in Baptism. And today, the day after Easter Sunday, the Church still thinks of her new sons and daughters. The Church is a mother and the first thought of the mother and of the father is for their kids. She is obviously very happy for the resurrection of her spouse, the Lord Jesus, but she is thinking of her kids. “Oh God who give constant increase to your Church by new offsprings” – these are the offsprings, the new Christians are the new offsprings – “grant that your servants, these new Christians, may hold fast in their lives to the sacraments they have received in faith” (Collect) and so we are a bit worried about these new Christians, I also worry about them.
But now today we are praying that these people who received the sacrament of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist in one night, may hold fast in their lives to the sacraments they have received.
It is not easy, we know it is not easy and this is what we pray today; we pray today that we, who are sinners, may be given the grace to peace, to compassion and the mercy, to hold fast in our lives to the sacraments because baptism is to be immersed in Jesus.
Although we are immersed we are sinners, just the same, and the Lord through confession gives us the new beginning every time and never tires of giving us a new beginning, every time, every time. “Grant that your servants may hold fast in their lives, the sacraments they have received”.
✠ Charles J. Scicluna
Archbishop of Malta