Easter Sunday, Year A

We have two homilies by Father Hanly for Easter Sunday, Year A: “Through Death Into New Life” and the succinct “Jesus is here to stay.”

Two Homilies:

Through Death Into New Life

Through Death Into New Life

In this beautiful homily for Easter Sunday, Year A, Father Hanly explains that Jesus passes through death not alone but with us, every last one of us. Father then looks at what this means for us.

Readings for Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord, Year A

  • First Reading: Acts 10:34, 37-43
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
  • Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4, or First Corinthians 5:6-8
  • Gospel: John 20:1-9



Today, of course, is the most important day for us in the year. It is the celebration of the rising of Jesus from the dead. It is the beginning of a whole new way of looking at life and we, as Christians, look upon life no longer through our eyes, but through the eyes of the One who broke through the terror of death and into a new way of being.

So briefly, today, there are just two things to learn.

The first one, of course, is that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, and His Son so loved his Father and the world that he suffered such a grievous and terrible ordeal as he passed through death into new life.

And we must remember that: that nowhere in the world can we say of God that He is short of love. For Jesus, on the cross, at the moment when his whole world collapsed, when everything that he believed in and trusted seemed to fall about his ears, when he said to his Father, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” as that happened, he turned to the screaming mob in front of him and he said, “Father, forgive them.”

This is when he becomes our Messiah, not when he does all the wonders, all the healing, all the things that he said, the beautiful things that he has said. It only comes when everything is taken away from him and he is on the edges of despair, and he turns to his Father and says, “I do this for you. I have only one request: that you hold back your arm of justice and, from now on, only forgiveness.”

And that’s the first great lesson of today, because he is asking us to do the same thing. If we are followers of Jesus, we must hold back justice and offer forgiveness. And, in this way, the world turns around. It is no longer eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, what is right and what is wrong. There is only love, forgiveness, caring. And this is how we enter into the new life, following in the footsteps of Jesus, our Lord.

When the disciples went to the tomb, they didn’t find anything. The tomb was empty, completely gone, an empty tomb. And what are we to think of that?

We are to think, “Where is Jesus?” They didn’t take him away. We know that that was impossible. Did his disciples hide him? They were there. They were amazed. They saw the cloth neatly folded. Where did he go? Did he hide?

And, of course, we know the answer. He passed from death into new life. And he did not do it, for Jesus never did anything for himself, he did it for us.

And so when he faces the ordeal of his life, with all its difficulties, he accepts them, and forgiving those who have made such an outrage possible.

On the other hand, he passes through death not alone but with us, every last one of us. He passes through death and gives us a share in the new life that he himself now lives.

This is the reason why we sit here. At the Last Supper, he took bread, knowing that they would never see him again the way he had been with them, and he said, “This is my body which is offered up for you, take this. This is my blood which is poured out for you, take this.”

And in the gift of himself in this form, he said once again, “Whenever you come together, whenever you touch these things, remember it is I. It is I who am with you and I will be with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”

The question then, of course, is, if we enter into the tomb, have we really died? For now we are in another way of being.

We’re not talking about physical death. We are talking about what Jesus died for. When we pass through the death of Jesus, we pass through and turn our backs on selfishness, on hurting others, on judging, on making the place that God has created to be a place of great wonder and joy and happiness into a place where many people do not have enough to eat, where many people feel their hopes are dashed each day by the injustices that they have to confront, where many people forget that they were created to walk in this life as children, children free and full of joy.

And so it is when we enter into the tomb, we, as Christians, are asked to leave all these things behind and, in the process, we are learning how to love. Not our love. Our love is not worth anything. To love, one with Jesus, the way Jesus loved: to forgive, to care, to reach out to all those around us. And then we, too, experience what Jesus says. He has given us new life. The new life is his life. In his life, there is only forgiveness. And so we must take that with us on our journey.

This gift of yourself was given when you were a child and someone brought you here and they gave you someone to answer for you. And, of course, it was your baptism. And the meaning of baptism is to pass through the water of death and rise to new life, and to become one with God and one with Jesus, bound together in the Spirit.

And so now we will, once again, take those vows that our godparents took for us many years ago. And we will rise up, and we will take these same words and say to God, “Yes, I do.”

The response to the questions are: “I do.” Very simple: I do. Will you do this? I do. Do you accept this? I do. And it’s a wedding. Do you take this man to be your husband? Do you take this woman to be your wife? I do. And because both are a covenant, first the covenant between a man and a woman marrying is a binding together, the covenant of God Himself, is God and us binding ourselves together in a unity that will last for all our days.

So now we ask you to rise and we will renew those promises that we made long ago and we will say with a full heart, “I do.”

Jesus is here to stay

Jesus is here to stay

In this short homily for Easter Sunday, Year A, Father Hanly reminds us that today we do not celebrate Jesus rising from the dead to go back to some heaven from where he came. We celebrate something more. Jesus comes to stay.

Readings for Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord, Year A

  • First Reading: Acts 10:34, 37-43
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
  • Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4, or First Corinthians 5:6-8
  • Gospel: John 20:1-9

Written Homily

In the gospel that we read just now, the women came to anoint and bury Jesus and found an empty tomb. They ran to tell the disciples to announce the astounding news.

It was a difficult time for everyone. A terrible time. Jesus crucified! The death of all their hopes and dreams, and the shame that they had run away, leaving him to suffer and die alone… except, of course, for his mother and few friends.

And yet in his final agony, Jesus was heard to say from the cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  It was to be his final gesture of self-sacrificing love and service to us. The Saviour of the World, and we unable to raise a hand to save him. “Lord have mercy on us all.”

A poet once wrote about the two arms of God: the right arm of Justice, and Justice must be served, and the left arm of Mercy, Mercy, that forgives. And when Jesus cries out on the cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,” his Father is left no choice, for his son has asked for mercy and for forgiveness for us all. 

Today we do not celebrate Jesus rising from the dead to go back to some heaven from where he came. We celebrate something more.

Jesus comes to stay. He comes to share his life with ours, not to teach us how to die and leave us, but how to live and love in this often sad and weary world.

That is why the Father gives His only Son into our hands, that we might never be alone again, without his loving care.

Jesus knows our aches and pains and all our sorrows too, our need to love and to be loved, to reach out and care for one another as he himself has always cared for us.

Jesus has promised us “to be with us always” and we’ll never be alone again. “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

FAQ for Homily for Easter Sunday, Year A

When is Easter Sunday, Year A, in 2023?9th April 2023
What is the title of Father Hanly’s homily for Easter Sunday, Year A?"Through Death Into New Life" and "Jesus is here to stay"
What is the next homily by Father Hanly in this Liturgical Cycle?
2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A
Who was Father Hanly?Father Denis J. Hanly was a Maryknoll Missionary
How can we find other homilies by Father Hanly?By Liturgical Calendar or by topic or by title

Information about Father Hanly’s homilies for Easter Sunday, Year A

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If you would like to use our transcripts of either of these sermons (updated 2023), please contact us for permission.

Father Hanly's sermon for Easter Sunday, Year A, "Through Death Into New Life" was delivered on 24th April 2011. Father Hanly's sermon for Easter Sunday, Year A, "Jesus is here to stay" was delivered on 20th April 2014. It is sometimes hard to accurately transcribe Father Hanly's reflections, so please let us know if you think we have made a mistake in any of our transcripts, and let us have your suggestions.

We hope that Father Hanly’s homilies, always kind, always wise, always full of love, will restore you to peace and harmony through a new understanding of what is important in this world. We believe these homilies are inspiring for everyone, not only for Roman Catholics or other Christians.

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