Happy and Blessed Easter to everyone!
It is beautiful to walk through the reading for Easter. The Old Testament readings of Easter Vigil tells us the covenant history of salvation, beginning with creation and extending to the prophetic promises of a New Covenant. The first reading is from the Book of Genesis (1:1-2:2), narrates the fundamental doctrine of creation and prepares us for the celebration of baptism and for us renewal of baptism as a new creation. In the second reading also from the book of Genesis (22:1-18), Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son. It is the high point of Abraham’s covenant relationship with God and blessing on his descendent. On Good Friday, Our Heavenly Father allows his only begotten Son to be crucified on Calvary. In the third reading from the book of Exodus, Israelites marched on dry land through the midst of the sea (14:15-15:1). At Easter Vigil, if there is baptism and Christian initiation takes place. The parting of the sea is a critical Old Testament type of baptism.
The next two readings are from the book of Isaiah. In the fourth reading, the Lord will with his enduring love, resume his covenant love for Zion and rebuild with precious stones and grant it righteousness and prosperity (54:5-14). This reading shapes the mind of the believer, especially those who are receiving the Sacraments, about the dual reality of the church as both Bride and Temple. The fifth reading is an invitation for a meal. The Lord’s thoughts and ways are higher and His Words will not return empty (55:1-11). This passage is associated with the Gospel of Matthew (14:13-21) the account of the feeding of the five thousand. Ultimately it leads to the Eucharist. This reading prepares us to reaffirm our faith and particularly those who are prepared to receive the Sacrament of Eucharist for the first time. The sixth reading is from the book of the Prophet Baruch which talks about wisdom and law (3:9-15, 32-4:4). It is an invitation to walk towards the splendor of the Lord, and live the faith to the full. The seventh reading from the book of Ezekiel tells about the restoration of Israel (Ezekiel 36:16-17, 18-28). The Lord will gather the Israelites from exile, and cleans them by sprinkling the clean water, and give them a new heart and a new spirit, so they can grow in the law of love. The Sacrament of Baptism is the new cleansing and the Holy Spirit renewing the heart to grow in the law of love.
In the Gospel of Luke (24:1-12), we read an Easter Vigil, the women found an empty tomb and they met two men in dazzling garments. The men asked women, “why do you seek the living one among the dead?” An ancient homily on Holy Saturday notes that “God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and son of Eve.” Jesus on Easter Sunday morning does a new creation.
During Lent, the church didn’t have any flowers, and when we walk into the church on Easter Vigil in the light of an Easter candle, we are struck by the flowers and beauty. The Easter flowers remind us of the three gardens of the Lord we find in Scripture. The first garden is the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8) where God placed first parents. It was a place of joy and love but soon it became a place of sin, suffering, and shame. The second garden is the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36). This garden is a garden of challenge and the garden of choice. It was challenging, but Jesus chose to do the sacrifice for us.
The third garden is the garden of the Resurrection (John 19:41). I recall my visit to Holy Land. One of the most powerful moments was visiting the Church of Holy Sepulcher. In this Church, we can see the place where Jesus was crucified, “Golgotha” and next to it is a small church within the church which is the Tomb of Christ. It was not just the Church of Tomb, but also the Church of Resurrection.
In the beginning God created everything and rested on the seventh day. On Easter Sunday, the first day of the week, God made us a new creation. I pray that we all can find one another in the garden of Resurrection - the New Creation. He is risen! Alleluia!!