Sunday, 12 April 2020 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! After the forty days of Lent and a long time of preparation and expectation, on this very night of the Easter Vigil, we finally enter into the glorious season of Easter. On this night of the Vigil of Easter, also known as the Mother of All the Holy Vigils, we commemorate that great moment of triumph and victory, of light over darkness, of God’s grace and love over evil and sin, and Christ of His victory over death, for He has conquered death itself by His glorious Resurrection from the dead.

Darkness that has reigned over this world because of sin and death have been defeated by our Lord’s Sacrifice on the Cross, and also through His triumphant victory by rising from the realm of the dead, showing us that God’s Light and power are supreme over all things. Not even death has the final say anymore, and death is not the end of all things, unlike what we may have thought. Death is no longer the absolute end, but rather, for the faithful, marking the end of our current despicable state and the beginning of a new, eternal and blessed life and existence in God.

This Easter Vigil tonight is indeed the holiest of all nights and moments in the entire liturgical year, for our very faith and our existence, the whole Church are all centred on this very moment. On that night almost two millennia ago at the tomb just outside of Jerusalem, just before the dawn was to break, the Lord showed us all this new hope and revealed His triumph, as He gloriously rose up from death and broke free from the hold of the tomb. At that moment, the salvation that had been long awaited for came to be, as all those who have patiently waited for the Lord’s coming received the assurance of salvation.

That is why the whole Church and the entire world, all the faithful people of God rejoice this day because we remember how God’s salvation has brought us this new hope that dispelled our fears and the darkness all around us. God has brought us this hope and light by showing us that there is life and existence beyond death, one that is filled with God’s grace and love. Through His suffering and death on the Cross, Christ has shared with us in dying to our sins, and by His resurrection, He brought us all into this assurance of new life.

Without this Resurrection, our entire faith would have been rendered meaningless and false, as then the Lord Jesus would have just been a Man, condemned to die on false, trumped-up charges against Him, dying a humiliating death on the Cross and laid in the tomb. Had the resurrection of the Lord had not happened, then the works and ministry of the Lord would have ended right there and then, and His disciples would have eventually scattered, like the other false Messiahs that rose up during approximately that same time.

But because Christ has risen from the dead, His truth and works remain and has been passed on through His disciples and His Church to all of us. The Lord’s glorious Resurrection has opened for us all a new path. This new path is the way which the Lord has led us into, the way of His truth. All those who believe in Him and walk in His path will be blessed forever and will rise together with Christ, and will be freed from the tyranny of sin and death forever. Death has no more say or power over us because we share in the deathlessness of Christ.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, this year we know how it has been a particularly difficult year for many if not most of us all around the world. Various communities and peoples from different countries have suffered because of the many disasters and unfortunate events that happened just within the past few months this year alone. Certainly we know of the terrible coronavirus pandemic that has claimed many lives and made many others suffer so far, but there are also many other diseases that claimed lives this year.

On top of this, there had been the terrible bushfires in Australia this year, the eruption of Mount Taal in the Philippines and some other volcanoes around the world, instabilities and tensions in some areas like the Middle East earlier in the year that had also caused much concern, fears and sufferings for many people. Truly, many may call this year a year of misfortune, a terrible year, a year of terror among many others. But we must not lose hope, for it is exactly why tonight’s celebration is so important.

This Easter celebration is a celebration of the Christian Passover, modelled after the original Jewish Passover, when the Israelites in Egypt, enslaved by the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, were saved by the Lord their God. At the original Jewish Passover as described in our third reading today we heard of how the Israelites were protected by God, Who sent a total of ten great plagues to the whole of Egypt, causing all the Egyptians to suffer for their refusal to let the Israelites go free. And last of all, the final plague was the worst of all.

The last plague was the death of all the firstborn children of the Egyptians, from the Pharaoh to the lowest slaves, to the lowest of all animals. But the Israelites were spared from all these, as when the Angel of God went about Egypt exercising the judgment of the plague, they were ‘passed-over’ as they had marked their houses with the blood of the Passover lamb as instructed by Moses. They all ate of the Passover lamb that night and were led free out of Egypt to the Land of Promise.

And on this new, Christian Passover, that we celebrate in full throughout this Easter or Paschal Triduum beginning from the evening of Holy Thursday with the Last Supper, we have another moment of God’s great salvation of His people, and this time this salvation is extended to all of us mankind who have been enslaved by the tyranny of sin and death, and put on hold by the evil one, Satan and all of his wicked fellow demons and fallen angels. Through this Easter, the Christian Passover, God leads us all into a new life and a wonderful blessed existence.

On this night, we heard of how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and from the hands of the Pharaoh and his army by opening the Red Sea before them all, allowing His people to cross safely through the dry seabed. In the same way, all of us have been brought to cross through the water of baptism, as we also celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation tonight on the Easter Vigil beginning with the Sacrament of Baptism where those who are to be received into the Church receive the baptism of the Lord, symbolising this passage through the water into new life of freedom in God.

We all partake in the same Eucharist, the same Most Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord, the Paschal Lamb that has been sacrificed. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus Christ our Lord is the Paschal Lamb, offered to God His heavenly Father as the perfect offering for the absolution of our sins, and He offered Himself as the High Priest, on the Altar of the Cross at Calvary. He has redeemed us and marked us all the faithful ones by the shedding of His Blood, the Blood of the Paschal Lamb.

We can clearly see that there is a lot of parallel between our Easter joy, the Christian Passover with the original Jewish Passover. And that is why, having went through this Easter Triduum, which is not just a series of separate celebrations but instead a great and united celebration of our salvation by God, on this very night, we join the whole Church in praising God for His great love and wonders, for saving us from certain destruction.

As mentioned earlier, this year has been particularly dark and difficult for many of us, but we must not lose hope just as the Israelites had also then suffered under the Pharaoh and the Egyptians for many years in slavery. And we have suffered for even much longer under the power and tyranny of sin. We must not forget that while the pandemic and all the other troubles we faced this year caused many to suffer and die, but even worse is the death caused by our sins, for the death caused by unrepented sin leads to everlasting death and suffering.

That is why today, as the glory of God’s light is shown to all of us, let us all direct all of our hope towards Him, and dedicate ourselves anew to Him, with a new faith and devotion. Let us all be a renewed people of faith, filled with the spirit and joy of Easter, and may the light of God shine forth through our lives from now on. Let us all bring forth the light and hope of God to all around us living in despair, fear and darkness, and bring that hope to warm their hearts and return hope to them.

May this upcoming season of Easter be a most wonderful one for us, that our joy will be true joy, not because of all of our worldly celebrations, but rather because we have found once again the source of our true joy and our hope, in Christ Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour, the Paschal Lamb of God by Whose Blood and by Whose Sacrifice all of us have been saved and be assured of eternal life in God, forever and ever. May God bless us always, and may He give us all the strength to live with this wonderful Easter joy always. Amen! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

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