Easter Vigil 2015
April 4, 2015
Tonight is a special night.
It’s special for our twelve people who will be entering into the Church tonight and completing their Sacraments of Initiation.
Watching them receive these sacraments is a healthy reminder for each of us to think about what the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Eucharist mean for ourselves.
Today our readings span the story of Salvation History to remind us of how God always cares for His people, reaching a pinnacle in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.
When did God begin a relationship with the people? At the very beginning. There has never been a time (and never will be a time) when God has not been in relationship with the people.
Our first reading tonight goes back to the very beginning when God was all that there was. God created the universe out of nothing and gave it order.
The story of creation we heard tonight is not meant to give a scientific explanation of creation. (see our website “Catholic Teaching and the Question of Evolution”). The story of Genesis tells us how God brings order to creation and places humankind, created in His Image, male and female, at the pinnacle of creation.
I know about big bang and evolution but to think that this could have happened, given the complexity of the universe, without God’s direction seems impossible to me.
Then our readings turn to the life of Abraham, our father in faith. Abraham had waited a long time to see God’s promise of a son fulfilled. Then God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It seems impossible but Abraham does it. Would we? Abraham made a third day journey to do this. How often do we pray never to suffer and if we do for it to be over quickly?
God stops Abraham before he goes through with it. In the end, it is God who will sacrifice His Son Jesus for us but that comes later in the story.
Then comes the Exodus when God rescues His people from slavery to the Egyptians. He does it in a way that only God could with the parting of the Red Sea, revealing His power. We see how the Israelites pass through the waters of the Red Sea to enter into new life.
Through the prophet Isaiah God invites all to come to the water. Our human bodies need water for life. We need God to know true life. We can spend a lot of effort on earthly things that never really satisfy us. We are created in God’s image and so the only thing that can truly fulfill us is life in Christ.
What is the cost?
There is no monetary cost for life in Christ. We cannot buy life in Christ. We must hand our lives over to Christ. Just as the Israelites passed through the waters of the Red Sea, we pass enter through the waters of baptism to die with Christ.
It isn’t easy to follow God’s will. The reality is that at times we fail. God knows this and still loves us so much to send His only Son to die for us.
We celebrated His death yesterday but we celebrate His death each day when we celebrate the Mass we receive the Eucharist where Jesus gives up His Body and Blood for us.
The story does not end with Jesus being laid in the tomb. Tonight we hear that the tomb has been found empty and that Jesus has been raised. We are to die to the things of this world so that we might rise with Jesus to new life.
We receive new life in the sacraments. In Baptism we enter into life in Christ. In Confirmation, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Baptism and Confirmation happen once in a lifetime. We are called to celebrate the Eucharist as Jesus’ gift to us over and over to nourish our souls.
Do we fall short? Do we sin? Yes, and so Jesus gives us the gift of Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we might be restored to life with Him.
So, now it is time to proceed with our celebration of the sacraments.