Homily at Send Off of Archbishop Palmer-Buckle
VALEDICTORY HOLY MASS OF THANKSGIVING
ON FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2019
AT THE HOLY SPIRIT CATHEDRAL, ADABRAKA-ACCRA.
- Sermon: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Alleluia!” (Ps. 117:24). My dearly beloved in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, today is Friday in the Octave of Easter, and Holy Mother Church throughout this Easter Week repeats this Psalm for the Alleluia Verse.
Yes, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Alleluia!” (Ps. 117:24). This verse is repeated because for us in the Catholic Church, the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection is so key to the Church’s faith and worship that we do not only celebrate it on Easter Sunday, it is prolonged for One whole Week, from Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday and celebrated intensely. This week or octave is considered ONE LONG DAY to be celebrated. Truly, “This is the day the Lord has made; we rejoice and are glad. Alleluia!” Yes, Christ our Passover has been sacrificed and He is risen. He has conquered death for us forever! Alleluia! Alleluia!! Alleluia!!!
1.1: My dearly beloved in Christ, the readings in the Octave of Easter invite us to make the experience of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and to profess it as witnessed to by the apostles and disciples of Christ and the members of the early Church especially in the Acts of Apostles. Let me make it clear that nobody of the apostles nor of the disciples personally saw the event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
What the Gospels and Letters especially of St. Paul testify to is that Jesus Christ was condemned to death, he suffered and was crucified, and he died on the cross. He was buried in a tomb and a huge stone was placed at its entrance. Some days later, when the women disciples went to embalm the body of Jesus, they found the stone rolled away, and so they came to inform the apostles who ran to the tomb and saw it empty. But of Jesus, they saw nothing, except the linens that were used to wrap the dead body folded apart in the tomb. Later, however, the Risen Lord appears to them, disciples and apostles, at different times.
The Gospel readings of the Octave of Easter, in various accounts, present us with the different occasions that some of the apostles and some of the disciples met the Risen Lord Jesus Christ and, who after querying their lack of faith, assured them that He has risen from the dead and that He was sending them in the power of the Holy Spirit to be his witnesses… to the ends of the earth (see Acts. 1:4-8 and Mt. 28:18-20).
In today’s Gospel, John the Evangelist recounts one of the spectacular apparitions of the risen Lord. Simon Peter and his fellow fishermen were seemingly bored with Jesus Christ their Lord and Master; he was now difficult to grasp with their minds. So they decide to return to their old occupation of fishing: “I am going fishing” Simon Peter says to his fellow apostles, who respond: “We will go with you.”
The Gospel tells us that they worked the whole night and caught nothing. Then at day break, just when no good fisherman goes fishing, some stranger standing on the shore directs these seasoned fishermen to “cast your nets to the right side and you will find some.” They do so and they make a catch that overwhelms them. They come to recognize it is the Risen Lord Jesus, who invites them to bring some fish and to have breakfast. According to John the Evangelist, “This was the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead”.
The setting of today’s First Reading is in the early days of the Church soon after Pentecost Day; the apostles and disciples, now under the power of the Holy Spirit, courageously witness to their faith in the Risen Lord and in his prophetic teachings while He was with them. The fact is that they were witnesses to the Risen Lord Jesus Christ and, even in His Name they were now doing wonders such as healing the cripple to every one’s astonishment.
This is what Simon Peter underscores to the Sadducees and the Jewish crowd that had gathered in wonderment at the healing of the crippled man: “Rulers of the people and elders…by what means is this cripple healed (?)… be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before well.”
Simon Peter goes on to witness with courage to his new faith in the risen Lord Jesus Christ thus: “…there is salvation in no one else… there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” And the name is Jesus, which in Hebrew itself means God is saving or God is my salvation.
1.2: My dearly beloved in Christ Jesus the risen Lord, what we learn from the Readings of today is that our faith in the Resurrection is based on the solid and visible experience of the apostles and disciples, on the several apparitions of the Risen Lord to them, and in the case of today’s Gospel, for our Christian living, we learn that it is only by following the Lord Jesus Christ with our whole heart and soul, and following his directives that our endeavours will be crowned with success.
Simon Peter could affirm that he had encountered the Risen Lord on the Sea of Tiberias, and that it was under His directives that he and his fellow fishermen were able to catch fish. Furthermore, literally, the Risen Lord did not need the apostles in order to catch fish. By the time they came ashore, He already had some fish on the grill for their breakfast. And again, the Risen Lord shows his concern for the wellbeing of his apostles, He provides food for them.
No wonder Simon Peter would leave everything and follow Jesus Christ even to the point of laying down his life for Christ. In short, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us build our faith on the factual witness of the apostles of Christ and let us know for sure that without his directives, our very good efforts will yield no results. He has given us the Holy Eucharist, His Body and His Blood, to nourish us in our mission to witness to Christ in the world. He has given them and us the Holy Spirit to accompany our mission in His Name.
His Name truly is the name by which we shall be saved. May the Lord Jesus Christ, the Risen Saviour, true to His Name Jesus, come to save us always! Amen. The Lord is risen. He has risen, indeed. Alleluia! Alleluia!! Alleluia!!!
Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,
Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast,
Friday, April 26, 2019.