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Easter Vigil – Homily

Easter Vigil
Genesis 1:1-2:2
Genesis 22:1-18
Exodus 14:15-15:1
Isaiah 55:1-11
Romans 6:3-11
Luke 24:1-12
March 26, 2016

Tonight we celebrate something very special.  Tonight is like no other night.  Tonight is the most sacred night of the year.

Tonight will be very special for Suzanne and Kris as they are baptized and received all the Sacraments of Initiation.  It will be special for Liz as she is received and confirmed in our Catholic faith.

It’s special for them as a unique event but it is special for all of us because of what this night represents.  The tomb of Jesus has been found empty.

This is an awesome thing as it means Jesus has risen but to really appreciate it we need to understand it not as an isolated event but as the culmination of the story of Salvation History.

The story of Jesus is not the story of a person who just shows up and starts doing great things.  Jesus is the Son of God, consubstantial with the Father, the God who is our Creator.

It is the story of Salvation History that we hear tonight in our readings.  It begins with the story of creation.  God was present at the very beginning when there was nothing but a “formless wasteland”.  Remembering this, we began our service in darkness with only the Easter fire to give us light.  After blessing the fire, our Easter candle is lit as a sign of how Jesus is the light of the world.

We hear in the creation story how God brings order to the world.  What we read is not a scientific explanation.  It is all about how God creates all that is needed in balance; light and darkness, land and water, the plants and the animals.  It is the story of how human beings are created in God’s image and stand at the summit of creation.

The readings continue with stories of how God does not simply create and leave.  Rather, God remains active in the world, constantly renewing the face of the Earth.

It is God’s gift to us.  In return God asks for commitment.  We see this when God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Abraham had waited a long time to have a son.  Isaac was a great gift to him but he is willing to give him back to God.

God continues to be active as He leads his people across the Red Sea towards the Promised Land.  He does this in a very spectacular way with the parting of the Red Sea.  Without a doubt, our God is a powerful God.

These are the stories of people who lived thousands of years ago but it is not just their story.  It is our story.  It is the story of Salvation History.

It becomes our story through God’s invitation, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water.”

What is the price?  After all, remember what God asked of Abraham, to sacrifice his son.  The Lord says, “Come, without paying and without cost.”

We need to be willing to turn our lives completely over to Jesus.  We do this out of love and trust in Him.  We can trust in God because of the many wonderful things He has done in creating the world, in rescuing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and in setting them free from exile in Babylon.  We can trust in Jesus because we can see God at work in him in the many great signs He does; changing water into wine, the healing of the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus.

We can trust in Jesus because of what we celebrated yesterday, the Crucifixion.  What more do we need to trust in Jesus than to know He willing gave his life up for us.

Of course, death alone could have seem like a terrible defeat but death of the Cross was not the end.  The women have found the tomb empty because Jesus is risen.  When the women go and tell the others what has happened, it seemed like utter nonsense to them because no one had risen from the dead before but when they see Jesus for themselves, they will come to believe.

This is the story of Salvation History.  It is the story of God’s love for his people.  It becomes our story in baptism.  It is the story of our salvation.  It is the story of new life for Jesus Christ is risen today!

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