Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrated the Easter Vigil the night of Saturday, April 3 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The text of his homily follows:
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
He is risen! Alleluia! Every Easter is a new beginning! When we hear this glorious Gospel tonight, we become a witness to something beautiful and amazing.
With Christian people all across the world today, we are standing before the empty tomb with Mary Magdalene and the other women.
What they saw, we see, too. The tomb is empty! We hear those thrilling words from the angel: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him.”
And what these first disciples came to believe, we now believe: The Lord has risen, indeed! We are witnesses to the resurrection, 2,000 years later.
And tonight we hear these readings, and we know that these readings tell our “family story.” These are our ancestors in the faith.
This is who we are, and this is where we come from. We are “Easter people,” a people made alive in the Risen Christ.
As St. Paul tells us tonight: “As Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in the newness of life.”
My brothers and sisters, we are still living in a difficult time. The world around us is changing.
There are some signs that things are different. The pandemic has been a very difficult reality and then there is an unsettled attitude in our society. We are not sure where it is all heading, but we know where we need to be.
We need to stay close to Jesus, close to his empty tomb, close to his Church.
This Easter, our Lord is calling us back. He is calling to remember who we are. He is calling all of us in the Church to live as “Easter people,” to return to the simplicity of life that we see in those first disciples.
The early Church did not talk about programs, or initiatives and activities. The first Christians called their faith the “Way,” the “Life.”
We need that same simple faith: Begin by believing in God’s love for us. Trust in the promise of life that he makes to us.
Our faith is not complicated. It involves simple decisions and practices we can make every day.
Trying every day to seek the Lord’s face in the Gospels. Listen to his words, ponder his example. Praying always to know what he wants us to do. Then do it with all our heart and all our strength.
Trying every day to love the people in our life, serving them with a humble heart, and show mercy and forgiveness. Love without counting the cost, give without expecting anything in return.
And knowing that Jesus walks with us always, that we can call on his name and he will reach out his hand to lift us up.
And, the most important thing we need to do each week is to renew our faith in celebrating the Holy Eucharist. This is how the first Christians lived — praying together, hearing the words of the Scriptures, and having communion with Jesus in the “breaking of the bread.”
The Eucharist is the most beautiful gift of Easter! Jesus remains with us, out of love for us. He remains, to be our food, to be our friend and companion on the journey of life.
As Easter people, we also need to grow in our love for the Church, and in our desire to share in the Church’s mission. We need to be his witnesses, bringing others to follow him in this beautiful way of life.
There is a beautiful story from the early Church. The apostles were thrown in prison, but an angel came at night and threw open the prison doors. The angel said to them: “Go and … speak to the people all the words of this Life.”
This is our mission now, my brothers and sisters. We are sent forth from the empty tomb, just as those first disciples were. We are sent out to speak to others of the love we know. To preach by example, by our deeds, by the joy of our life!
I wish you and your families a blessed Easter!