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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
Mark 16:1-7
April 20, 2019

Tonight we come as darkness falls.  Night comes and another day will follow. 

We come in a world where we know the darkness of bad things that happen.  Sometimes it’s little things, sometimes it’s big things. 

This Monday there was a huge fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.  There was very major damage.  Notre Dame stood as a sign in the Paris Skyline.  It was built as a house of worship for God and contained major images of our faith.  It was a place that revealed God’s light to the world.  It was a building that stood for over 800 years.

Where are those who grieve the loss caused by this fire to turn?

The Cathedral had over 800 years of history.  We turn to an even longer story, the story of Salvation History, the story of God’s love for his people to know that God is with us.

It goes back to the time of creation.  That’s where our readings began tonight, at “the beginning.”  The darkness covered everything.  “the earth was a formless wasteland.”

There was nothing, nothing but God.

God then brought order to the “formless wasteland.”  He “separated the light from darkness.”  He would separate the waters and bring forth dry land.  He brought order to the chaos as He created the plants, the animals, and, ultimately, humans in his own image, “male and female he created them.”  Then, “he rested on the seventh day.

We thank God for bringing order to the “formless wasteland.” 

The story of creation from Genesis reminds us of God as the origin of all that is good.  God created “in the beginning” and God will create anew when He sends his Son Jesus to save us.

God did not create and then walk away.  For those who are open to God, He remained active in their lives.  Abraham was a man totally dedicated to God.  When God said go, Abraham went. 

Among the ways Abraham saw God’s blessings in his life was his son Isaac.  Abraham knew Isaac was a gift from God.  Yet, when God tells him that he shall offer Isaac “as a holocaust” Abraham did not resist.  Whatever the Lord asked of him, Abraham would do.  God told Abraham where to go to offer the holocaust and he went.  It must have been some distance for it took three days to get there.

As they got close, “Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders.”  Here I remember the words from the first reading from Isaiah on Good Friday, “but the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.”

We take that reading from Isaiah as a prophecy about what will happen to Jesus.  We can see what happens to Isaac as foreshadowing what Jesus will do for us.  Isaac does not resist and neither will Jesus for He comes to do the Father’s Will.

Before God stopped Abraham, Isaac asked “where is the sheep for the holocaust?”  Abraham’s response is prophetic, “God himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust.”  God provides Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins.

Throughout Salvation History, God continues to be there for his people.  When they cry out from slavery in Egypt, God sends Moses to lead them out.  When they reach the Red Sea and the Egyptians are bearing down on them, there seems no way out, “The LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?  Tell the Israelites to go forward.”  Just when there seems no way forward, God parts the waters of the Red Sea and they pass through.

God does the same for us.  As the Israelites passed through the waters of the Red Sea, we need to pass through the waters of Baptism.  As the “LORD saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians,” He will save us from our sins.

In our next reading, we heard the Lord say through Isaiah, “come to the water.”  God offers us living waters in the gift of the Holy Spirit.  He offers us true bread in the Eucharist.  When we don’t understand it all, we remember the Lord’s words, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways…so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.”

We aren’t going to understand it all.  Abraham won’t have understood why God asked him to sacrifice his son but Abraham trusted.

We can trust God because of all that is contained in Salvation History but most especially what happened on Good Friday, Jesus gave his life for us.

That brings us to our gospel tonight.  It is Easter morning and the women “went to the tomb.”  They went to complete the burial rituals.  They expected to find Jesus’ body in the tomb.

They did not.

The tomb was empty.

They were puzzling over this” when two men appeared to them and said Jesus had been raised.  When the women told the others what had happened it “seemed like nonsense” but they would all come to believe that Jesus died and rose for us. 

Not even death has power over Jesus.

This is the story of Salvation History, beginning in Genesis from the time of creation to its climax in Jesus giving his life for our sins.

I spoke of baptism.  Most of us are baptized but we have three people here tonight who are not and wish to be.  Now, it is time for them to receive their own baptism.

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