Easter Vigil in the Holy Night (2012)
Since last Sunday—Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord—and flowing profoundly during these last days, each of us have been struck by very physical happenings and experiences:
- from walking and waving palm branches commemorating His entrance into that Holy City, to the oils being blessed and shared with us, that we might be anointed with His balm throughout our days;
- from the Lord washing our feet in loving service, to receiving His Body and Blood as food for eternity;
- from reposing with Him in the garden, to going out with Him to Calvary where He was offered to death on a tree;
- from His broken body taken down from the Cross to being laid in a tomb…His last breath spent, His last act completed…or so it seemed.
All of these physical happenings have had their effect on us: we moved, we walked, we heard, we sang, we saw, we prayed, we listened, we pondered and we made silence. The experiences of these last days have haunted us, enriched us, and blessed us. And now? …now:
- we awake to see a glorious, holy fire roaring in the dusk;
- we watch as His Light illumines the darkness that surrounded us;
- we hear as stringed instruments and pipes announce He is Risen;
- we wash in the waters of baptism, renewed and refreshed;
- the balm of this great news anoints our hearts with the consolation and joy that, “He has been raised from the dead!”;
- our eyes see the newness of His Church;
- our nostrils smell the sweetness of our praise;
- our souls leap with every key and strum of our choir!
Yes, He is Risen! And as powerful and strange as these last days have been, how powerfully new our future days can now be. You see, only now do we have a hope—borne of faith—that we, too, will never die. Christ, by His rising, has now changed forever the course of all human history: He, now, has become the gateway for our own eternal life. He became a man so that by dying a man’s death, He would be one with us. His nature is thus so bound up with ours. And He—the man—rose, by His power as God, and in His nature bound with ours, He invites us to rise with Him. How wondrous a gift…a gift that brings a final experience for each of us who believe: we experience a deep, a humbling, a most powerful gratitude for the gift of life offered eternally for each of us who believe.
Finally, recall that the first apostles heard the encouragement of the three women who visited the angel at the tomb, re-told in tonight’s gospel. From that great news, too, we now hear Him beckoning, we now see Him alive, we now offer Him praise and thanksgiving for the dawn of eternal life has risen.