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Homily – Easter Vigil, Year A

Easter Vigil, Year A
Genesis 1:1-2:2
Genesis 22:1-18
Exodus 14:15-5:1
Isaiah 55:1-11
Romans 6:3-11
Matthew 28:1-10
April 19, 2014

Last Sunday we began Holy Week with the gospel proclaiming Jesus entering into Jerusalem.  Thursday night we remembered how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and gave us the Eucharist.  Yesterday, we celebrated Jesus’ Crucifixion but that seemed to end in death but now the tomb is empty.  Jesus is risen!

Given all that we have celebrated this week, one might think we could just pick up to start tonight’s Mass where we left yesterday, with Jesus laid in the tomb.  But we don’t….

Instead our readings go all the way back to creation, when there was nothing except God.


We started our Mass tonight in darkness, like the darkness that existed before God created light.  Without God there would be no light.

Recognizing God as the source of light, we start with the blessing of the Easter fire, giving us light and we blessed our new Paschal candle.  As we blessed the candle, the prayers described God as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  God was there when creation happened and will be there at the end.  Our Paschal Candle has the current year on it, reminding us that God is also present with us now.

Dan sang for us the Exsultet, telling Salvation History and tonight we have more readings than normal to include much of Salvation History.

There is the Creation Story, telling us how God creates, not to provide a scientific explanation but to explain the divine order of things so there is meaning to creation.  Big Bang and evolution do not provide meaning for life.

Then we hear the story of Abraham and how his faith is so strong that he is willing to sacrifice his son.  In the end he does not need to and God provides for the sacrifice to be made that day but we must see this as a foreshadowing of God making the ultimate sacrifice giving up his Son for us.

Then comes the Exodus where God sets his people free from slavery in Egypt as they cross through the waters of the Red Sea.  All this, as Isaiah says, without price or cost.  Crossing the waters of the Red Sea, they entered into new life.  Tonight we have six people who will enter into this new life through baptism.

Much of this liturgy centers around our six to be baptized and the four who will complete their Christian Initiation with them but the Church invites us to see this as a reminder of our own baptism and what it means to die and rise with Christ.  To do so we will all renew our own baptismal promises.

At this point our readings bring us to Jesus’ tomb.

The tomb is empty!

What does this mean?  The angel tells the women that it is because Jesus is Risen!

Yesterday, we celebrated Jesus’ death.  We don’t normally celebrate death.  We normally see death as sorrow.  In the case of Jesus’ death, it came seem like utter defeat.  That’s why to understand Jesus’ death, we must know of his Resurrection.

Death is not the end!

Remember how Jesus healed people thought to be dead?

Remember how he called Lazarus, after he had been dead for four days, forth from the tomb?

Not even death has power over Jesus.  In his death and Resurrection, Jesus shows us that there is so much more to life than what we see in this world.

This changes everything.  It should put a whole new focus on what it means to live.  Material things are not important.  God is!

In our Easter Triduum we have much to celebrate, three days but all one event.  On Holy Thursday, Jesus gave us the Eucharist.  Knowing he was going to be crucified he speaks of the Eucharist as his body and blood that are given up for us, giving up on the Cross, so the Eucharist forever celebrates the sacrifice of the Cross.  Then we have Jesus’ death and Resurrection.  We need to both to make sense of either.

So we celebrate!


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