Fr Frank Brennan’s Homily for Easter Sunday

By Fr Frank Brennan, 31 March 2024
Image: j.chizhe/

Homily for Easter Sunday 

Readings: Acts 10:34,37-43; Psalm 117; Colossians 3:1-4; Mark 16:1-7

31 March 2024


Happy Easter. Regardless of our own personal situations and regardless of the state of our world we are invited to share real joy and resilient hope today because as Paul tells the Colossians ‘you have been brought back to true life with Christ’. ‘Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth.’

Is this just pie in the sky? Is it just the stuff of fairy tales? Or does it make a real difference in the lives of those of us who profess that the Lord is truly risen? Is it good news for us only while all continues to go well for us in life? Or is it good news even in the midst of evil and in adverse situations completely beyond our control?

Listen at

There have been two stand-out moments in my life when I have been filled with utter dread about the world’s future. The first was September 11, 2001 when the planes ploughed into the World Trade Centre; the second was the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023. Both were works of pure evil. Each was intended to produce results beyond the control of everyone, including the world’s superpowers. Each was designed to unleash revenge of untold proportions. Each was designed to evoke evil in response to evil. Each was the culmination of perceived injustices by people having diametrically opposed world views from those who were attacked.  The perpetrators saw the victims not as innocent bystanders assured their human rights and dignity but as complicit enemies deserving death.

The death of Jesus was evil. It was the outcome of calculations made by those who exercised worldly authority. His death should have put an end to all the commotion, with those exercising authority in the Temple under the auspices of the Roman occupiers expecting to get things back to normal. It was not to be.

It’s when confronted by evil or by things completely out of our control that our Easter hope kicks in.

In Mark’s gospel, we are told that when Jesus and the disciples had left for the Mount of Olives on Holy Thursday night, Jesus said to them: ‘You will all fall away, for the scripture says: “I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered’; however after my resurrection I shall go before you into Galilee.’(14:27-28)  In today’s gospel from Mark, the women on entering the tomb see and hear the young man in the white robe telling them: ‘You must go and tell his disciples and Peter: “He is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him, just as he told you.”’

Against all the odds, Peter who had betrayed Jesus on Holy Thursday night becomes the one leading the charge post-Easter, preaching a gospel of repentance ‘that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’

Our Easter hope is not an excuse for paralysis or inactivity whenever we are confronted with situations of evil or adversity beyond our control. It’s our Easter hope that motivates us to do all we can to counter the evil and adversity about us. Our Easter hope can in turn be sustained by our own immediate efforts and the earthly efforts of others to put the world right.

Hoping against hope that there might be some prospect of peace in the land of Jesus’ birth, I took heart that our Holy Week commenced with the carriage of a resolution in the UN Security Council demanding ‘an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire’, as well as demanding ‘the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to address their medical and other humanitarian needs’.[1]

Then on Holy Thursday, the International Court of Justice made further orders in relation to the proceedings brought against Israel by South Africa.  The court ‘observed that the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip that existed when it issued its Order of 26 January 2024 has deteriorated even further’.  The Court noted ‘the unprecedented levels of food insecurity experienced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip over recent weeks, as well as the increasing risks of epidemics.’[2] All 15 judges, including the respected Judge Aharon Barak who had been the longtime President of the Supreme Court of Israel, ordered:

‘The State of Israel shall, in conformity with its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and in view of the worsening conditions of life faced by Palestinians in Gaza, in particular the spread of famine and starvation, take all necessary and effective measures to ensure, without delay, in full co-operation with the United Nations, the unhindered provision at scale by all concerned of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance, including food, water, electricity, fuel, shelter, clothing, hygiene and sanitation requirements, as well as medical supplies and medical care to Palestinians throughout Gaza, including by increasing the capacity and number of land crossing points and maintaining them open for as long as necessary’.[3]

None of us has the answer to this evil situation.  As Christians, those of us with Easter hope, can keep alive the flickering flame of peace.  Whatever the shortcomings of our worldly order, we can give thanks this Easter that the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the rulings of the International Court provide tentative steps in the light up the steep mountain out of the valley of darkness.[4]

Whatever valleys of darkness surround you or your loved ones this Easter, find a flicker of joy in your heart giving thanks for all the blessings in life, recalling the chant at the Easter vigil: ‘Lumen Christi; Deo Gratias’. ‘The Light of Christ; thanks be to God.’ Happy Easter.

From the start of 2024, Fr Frank Brennan SJ will serve as part of a Jesuit team of priests working within a new configuration of the Toowong, St Lucia and Indooroopilly parishes in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. Frank Brennan SJ is a former CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA). Fr Frank’s latest book is An Indigenous Voice to Parliament: Considering a Constitutional Bridge, Garratt Publishing, 2023.


[1] See

[2] See, paras 30-31.

[3] Ibid, para 51.

[4] See the Jesuit response published by the General Curia in Rome:

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