He is Risen! Alleluia!!
A couple of years ago I had the privilege to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We had the privilege to make the Way of the Cross to Calvary and celebrated Mass at the Church of Holy Sepulcher. It was a faith filed moment. Calvary is not a huge hill, considering where Jesus went to pray or where He transfigured, Calvary is a small one. Why? I don’t think Romans want to climb the huge hill to kill somebody. They chose Calvary for their own convenience. For Jesus, it is not just walking up the hill. He was scourged, crowned with thorns, and carrying the cross. He was carrying our burdens. Jesus’ crucifixion site and Jesus’ tomb are in the Church of Holy Sepulcher.
The Old Testament readings of Easter Vigil recites 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, we read the creation story (1:11-2:2). In the second reading from the book of Genesis, Abraham is asked to sacrifices his only son (22:1-18). 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 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, there is baptism and Christian initiation take 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 also from the book of Isaiah, which 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 Eucharist. This reading prepares us to reaffirm our faith and particularly those who prepared to receive the Sacrament for the first time. The sixth reading is from the book of 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, live the faith to the full. The seventh reading is 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, 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 the Baptism is the new cleansing and Holy Spirit renewing the heart to grow in the law of love.
In the Gospel of Matthew, we read an Easter Vigil, “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning; Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.” 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, brought new life. Easter morning marks the day of Christ’s victory over death and sin.
This Easter experience is a past event, a present reality, and future hope. Easter is a celebration of present reality: Jesus lives! Jesus died and rose again in the past, but that Jesus lives among us and within us right here, and right now. This is our Easter proclamation. We experience his presence in our lives in many beautiful ways.
Easter is the celebration of future hope. When we are baptized we are given a share of the Resurrection of the Lord, we become a new creation. Our hope is that we will share in the fullness of the New Life Jesus won for us through His suffering and death. It is our hope in Christ that helps us endure challenges like the coronavirus. The coronavirus has brought the pain of sickness, uncertainties, and confusion, but our faith gives us hope, beyond this pain and struggles, Easter Sunday tells us there is hope. The fullness of hope and happiness is Eternal Life.
Happy Easter to everyone!