Easter Vigil 2013
In the Exultet that we heard tonight, the praises of light were sung and we heard the words ‘let this holy building shake with joy.’ Shake with joy. What a wonderful image. We should shake with joy, our default setting, our normal, our most dominant mood should be joy. If we want to know the answer to how we share our faith best it is joy. If we want others to join us on our pilgrimage we must be a joy to them. Joy is infectious, joy draws people. Who wants to be around a miserable gossiping cynic? Usually other miserable gossiping cynics. The joyful attract people who want joy. Who doesn’t want joy really? We all want happiness. We have absolutely no reason to not to be joyful. If we believe what we celebrate tonight then there should be a pervading joy in us, a joy that leads us to be people who bless, people who affirm, people who build, people who make things new. Those are the kind of people we have to keep on becoming. No one should be waiting for a reason to be joyful, it’s already happened. Jesus is Risen. This doesn’t remove the sadnesses but our difficulties and our tragedies are passing things. With hearts set on heaven, with hearts that burn with love for Jesus Christ Risen from the dead, we can view our lives with an all new perspective.
Joy has to be practised and by practising it becomes habit and by becoming habit it becomes who we are. To be joyful is to see the best, rejoice in the good, be compassionate, it’s to be someone who hopes, someone who serves, someone who gives of their self with passion, someone who isn’t waiting for something better but is rejoicing in what there is right now. Practice takes discipline, and part of the discipline for us is confession. In confession we renew the Grace of our Baptism, so our cynicism, negativity and even our giving way to sadness needs to be confessed. We have to get over whatever it is that stops us using this incredible Sacrament, and the biggest thing we need to get over is thinking we don’t it. If confession is a regular part of our lives then we become people who keep on leaving death behind and move towards joy. Joy is about removing ourselves from the centre of things, considering ourselves, taking ourselves too seriously. When we take ourselves too seriously, we are missing out on a really good laugh at just how ridiculous we can be.
Baptism was the greatest gift we ever received. Imprinted upon us is the image of Jesus Christ. Being a person of joy is to allow him to come to the surface, to be seen. To be a person of Joy is to allow what is already reality to become visible: namely that we are the image and likeness of God. Tonight we celebrate, we shake with joy, we move on from the tomb, we leave that behind, whatever is there has nothing to do with life, so let us leave death behind, let us shake with joy!