The highpoint of the Holy Week liturgies is the Easter Vigil, which was celebrated by Bishop Michael Smith at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar.  During the Mass, Bishop Michael Smith baptized baby Méabh Emily Hughes, whose father Paul Hughes had been baptized at the Easter Vigil thirty-two years earlier.  The music was provided by the Cathedral Choir, led by Gerard Lillis.

In his homily, Bishop Smith reflected on the reactions of various characters to the passion, death and resurrection of Christ in St John’s Gospel.

“The death sentence hardly caused Pilate a sleepless night; for the Roman soldiers, it was just another day’s work, while the Pharisees took delight in their vengeful actions.  Yet not all were so blind to the work of Providence in their midst.  The women who accompanied Jesus to Calvary deserve our particular attention as an example of faith and courage.  The sympathy and practicality of Mary of Magdala is truly heroic and testimony to her openness to the grace of her earlier encounter with Jesus and His mercy. The two disciples who made it to the tomb are likewise examples of witness which we too can hope to imitate.”

The Bishop explained the ‘salvation history’ dimension to the events of Holy Week and Easter. In the background, he said, was the Old Testament covenant – “You will be my people and I will be your God” – which the crowd scorned by chanting “We have no king but Caesar”.  All the while, however, Jesus was enacting the new covenant with His blood.  What He shared at the table during the Last Supper now became a reality on Calvary, vindicated by the resurrection.

“This is the faith in Jesus which was glimpsed between the tears by Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of Jesus and her companions, and by Peter and the Beloved Disciple.  What the angels proclaimed on the night of His birth – “Today a Saviour has been born to you” – and what the angel reechoed in the garden of the empty tomb – “He is not here, He has risen” – this is the same faith which the Church now professes as we renewed the promises of our baptism.

Thanks to John McCauley, Mullingar for providing the photographs.

Created with flickr slideshow.