(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 30 March 2013 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Scripture Reflection)

Today marks the greatest day in our entire year, and marks the greatest event that there ever was in the history of all mankind and the history of the world. For today, our Lord, who had died for us on the cross, did not stay dead, but was risen by the glory of God to Father in the most glorious Resurrection.

Jesus Christ, our Lord, who is Risen Lord, has harrowed hell in His descent there after His death,  He has liberated souls of sinners imprisoned and enchained by Satan, but having true faith in the Lord, freed from their bonds, and now join our Lord in His glorious Resurrection. Yes, glorious indeed is  His Resurrection. For in His Resurrection, our life are restored, in a new life in Him, just as our past is dead, when Christ died for us on that cross on Calvary.

Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, had given His life that all of us who shared in His death through baptism, just as St. Paul said in his letter to the Romans, we can also be freed from eternal death in sin, and enter into eternal life and be Resurrected to true life just together with Christ’s resurrection. All of us who had been baptised in Christ, had been marked by Christ, our Lord as His, and His alone. The devil and his snares of sin no longer has any power over us.

Indeed, we who had been baptised, had received the gift of life through our faith in the living God, the resurrected Christ, who triumphed over Satan and death. But we must always stay vigilant, that Satan certainly will not stay silent while his dominions over sinful men are being assailed. He will fight back hard, and all of us must be ready, and must be strong.

As in what we had heard in all the readings we have today, today we hear the story of God’s love and His love for all of us, from the time when He created us and all the earth, through all the tribulations that His people encountered in Egypt, and through His salvation of them through Moses, His servant, and finally through the prophets, and ended in the greatest love and salvation of all that is, the salvation of all mankind through Christ, who died for us, and risen for us, that all of us join Him to once again return to the Father who loves us, and who created us out of His breath of life though we are dust.

So great is God’s love that He laid down His life for us, for His is the only worthy life that when surrendered in death, worth all of our iniquities and faults, that we who believe in Him can be rid of those, and becoming truly perfect in virtue, in our being and our soul, that we are worthy of being one with God, and be in His Presence again.

For when our forefathers rejected God through their rebellion, through Adam and Eve’s disobedience of eating the forbidden fruits of the tree of knowledge, we had been marred, and therefore, we could not stand before God in our imperfections, for God is perfect, and though He loves us so much indeed, no imperfections or iniquities can stand in His presence and survive.

A great chasm had appeared between us and God the Father, our creator. Ever since Adam and Eve were banished from the Gardens of Eden for their disobedience, we have ever since wonder around in this earth, separated from the fullness of God’s love, which Adam and Eve enjoyed in their early life of bliss in Eden before the fall of mankind to sin, and which we are to enjoy again, if we truly believe in Christ, and allow Him to transform us through His death and resurrection, to be purified, and therefore, worthy once again of the fullness of love of our God.

For, just like the slavery of the people of Israel, God’s people in Egypt shows to us, this separation from God is just temporary. For as God sent Moses, His servant to free the people of Israel from their bondage under Pharaoh, so He had sent His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver all of us, not just Israel, God’s first chosen people, but now through Christ, He delivers all of us, His new chosen people, from the bondage under sin and Satan, the evil one.

Just as He split open the Red Sea through Moses, to allow the people of Israel to walk dryshod through the sea, so He also opened the path to Himself, through Christ, to allow us to walk and return to He who loves us. For that great chasm between us and Him is insurmountable and infinite in span, but yet, Christ, our Lord, who gave His life for us, had become that great bridge through His Resurrection, that this bridge, like the dry land of the Red Sea’s seafloor, it allows us to pass through despite the chasm, to return back to our Father in heaven.

Yet, the path would not be easy, and we may fall along the way. Indeed, we had been chosen and marked by Christ through baptism, that we reflect His death and resurrection in ourselves, within our heart, but just as God’s chosen people, the people of Israel had shown, we can fall in our way. We knew it well that Israel often rebelled against the Lord, beginning from when they had been brought out of Egypt, when they often brought the Lord to the test, and made numerous complaints to the Lord, and even established rival gods like that of the golden calf, and the false gods of the people of Midian and Canaan.

We too can falter in our way, and can also fall into the same kind of trap that had befallen Israel. Therefore, we must always be vigilant, and keep at all times, our focus in Christ, our Lord, in His love and trust in His authority. Let us keep one another strong in faith, strong in God’s love, and strong in our hope for eternal life through Christ. Help out one another, especially those who are struggling with the faith.

Though the people of Israel, the chosen people, constantly rebelled against God and His commandments, and slaughtering many of His chosen prophets, and ultimately crucified His Son, God incarnate in Christ Jesus, He still readily forgave them, since in His own words that they do not know what they are doing, that in their ignorance, and in the blindness of their eyes and hearts, they failed to see God and His wonderful mission of redemption.

Therefore brothers and sisters in Christ. Today let us make true the mission that God has entrusted to all of us through His Apostles, that is to spread the Good News to all the nations, and to baptise them in the Name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. As we commemorate the Resurrection of our Lord today, let this moment be a moment of renewal of our commitment to evangelise the Good News of the Lord to all the people.

That through evangelisation and knowledge of the Lord, the people will no longer rebel against the Lord who loves them, and will no longer dwell in sin and darkness, but will return to the light, just as all of us had been redeemed into light by our own baptism.

Let us pray fervently for our brethren who will be baptised in the ceremony today, either in the Easter Vigil or the Easter Sunday celebrations, that the love and fear of the Lord will continue to grow stronger in their hearts, that the call which they had received to become catechumens, will continue to resonate loudly within their beings and their hearts even after their baptism. May the Holy Spirit descend upon them and dwell in their hearts, and through them and their actions, and also in all of us gathered as one community of the faithful ones in Christ, bear much fruits of the Holy Spirit, most important of which is love.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I wish you all a most happy and blessed Easter, that in this holy season of Easter, may all of us rejoice in the glorious Resurrection of our Lord, and commit ourselves to further the evangelisation of our Lord’s Good News, that many more will be able to join our Lord too, in new life, born out of baptism, and be resurrected like Christ was resurrected, from our past lives and die to ourselves, so that we can be born into a new life in Christ. God bless us all. Amen.

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 30 March 2013 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Luke 24 : 1-12

On the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, they went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly appeared beside them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story.

Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 30 March 2013 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Luke 24 : 1-12

On the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, they went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly appeared beside them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story.

Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 30 March 2013 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Psalm after the Epistle)

Psalm 117 : 1-2, 16-17, 22-23

Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. Let Israel say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

The right hand of the Lord is lifted high, the right hand of the Lord strikes mightily! I shall not die, but live to proclaim what the Lord has done.

The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it.

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 30 March 2013 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Epistle)

Romans 6 : 3-11

Do you not know that in baptism which unites us to Christ we are all baptised and plunged into His death? By this baptism in His death, we were buried with Christ and, as Christ was raised from among the dead by the Glory of the Father, so we begin walking in a new life.

If we have been joined to Him by dying a death like this so we shall be by a  resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Christ, so as to destroy what of us was sin, so that we may no longer serve sin – if we are dead, we are no longer in debt to sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe we will also live with Him.

We know that Christ, once risen from the dead, will not die again and death has no more dominion over Him. For by dying, He is dead to sin once and for all, and now the life that He lives is life with God.

So you, too, must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 30 March 2013 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Psalm after Seventh Reading)

Psalm 41 : 3, 5 and Psalm 42 : 3, 4

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

Now as I pour out my soul, I remember all this – how I used to lead the faithful in procession to the house of God, amid shouts of joy and thanksgiving, among the feasting throng.

Send forth your light and your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre and harp, o God, my God.

 

Alternative Psalm (If there is baptism)

 

Psalm 50 : 12-15, 18, 19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it.

O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 30 March 2013 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Seventh Reading)

Ezekiel 36 : 16-17a, 18-28

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, when Israel occupied her own land and defiled it by her way of life and her actions. I poured out My fury on them because of the blood they shed in the land and because they defiled it with their filthy idols.”

“Then I scattered them among the nations  and dispersed them in other lands. I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. But when they were brought to other nations, My Holy Name was profane because others said of them : ‘The people of YHVH had to be exiled from His land!'”

“Then I was concerned for My Holy Name, profaned by Israel among the nations where she had been dispersed. Now you shall say to the people of Israel : ‘It is not for your sake that I am about to act, but because of My Holy Name that you have profaned in the places where you have gone.'”

“‘I will make known the holiness of My great Name, profaned among the nations because of you, and they will know that I am YHVH when I show them My holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land.'”

“‘Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols. I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.'”

“‘I shall put  My spirit within you and move you to follow My decrees and keep My laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be My people and I will be Your God.'”