Sunday, 4 April 2021 : 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! Today on this holiest of all nights and at the pinnacle of the Lord’s salvation of all mankind, on this Easter Vigil, we mark the moment almost two millennia ago when the Lord brought His salvation to all of us mankind, on a night that was truly extraordinary, a night above all other nights, the Mother of all Holy Vigils just as we have heard in our Easter Proclamations or the Exsultet earlier on. On this night, as we all keep this Vigil faithfully as one Church, we remember the night when God, through Christ, His Son, Our Saviour, delivered us from the tyranny of sin and from the power of death.

That is why, today, all of us are reminded through the many readings and lessons from the Sacred Scriptures, right back from the very beginning of time, detailing all that the Lord had done for us, starting with the time of the Creation of the world in the Book of Genesis, and then followed by the account of the sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah, and most importantly, the story of the Exodus from Egypt, how the Israelites were rescued from the land of Egypt, and how God overthrew their oppressors, and then through to the prophets who promised of God’s salvation for His people.

All of these events throughout history showed us how the Lord loved us so greatly and so wonderfully, that to rescue us all, a people whom He had created and loved, He had guided us throughout all of history, promising to us the liberation from the power of sin and death that had enslaved us since the beginning of Creation, with the fall of man into sin, by the disobedience against God and His will. Yet, God did not abandon us or reject us, and while we have to endure the consequences for those sins, He did not annihilate mankind although He could perfectly have done so.

Instead, He proclaimed right from the very beginning that He would save His people, that He would send His deliverance to them, right before Satan, as well as Adam and Eve in the Gardens of Eden, when He proclaimed that the Woman would come and crush the head of Satan, as the premonition for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, born through the Virgin, Mary, and how He would save all of mankind through His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, all that we have been celebrating and focusing on in the past one week, and culminating tonight at the celebration of the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord.

Tonight we mark the culmination of the entire Easter Triduum, the period of time spanning three days from the time of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday right up to the Resurrection at the end of the Sabbath. That is rightly celebrated together as such because we should see the entire Easter Triduum, the Last Supper, Our Lord’s Passion, suffering and crucifixion, His death and Resurrection as one single great event, the greatest event in the entire history of all mankind, the moment of our salvation and liberation, just as how the Israelites were saved from the hands of the Egyptians.

Earlier on in the celebration of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, I have been focusing on how the events of the Last Supper and all that happened on Good Friday were one great event of the new Passover of Our Lord, the new Passover and the New Covenant that He was establishing with us all mankind, which He initiated on the Last Supper, offering His own Precious Body and Blood through the bread and wine He blessed, broken and shared among His disciples, as the symbolic giving of Himself to all of us, and then, on Good Friday, He completed everything as He laid there on the Cross, bloodied, bruised and dying.

This was the sacrifice alluded in the reading from the Book of Genesis on the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved and promised son Isaac to Him, on Mount Moriah. When God saw Abraham’s faith and dedication, not holding back even from giving his own son, He told Abraham that He had seen his faith, and spared Isaac, instead placing a ram in Isaac’s place. And how is this related to what we are celebrating? That is because Christ has suffered and died in our place, putting upon Himself all the burdens and blame that were ours, so that we do not perish but live.

God did not spare His own beloved, only begotten Son, giving Him to us as the Source of Life and the Hope of eternal life. He sent us Christ, His Son, that He may become the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, by Whose Blood all of us have been redeemed, just as the Israelites were saved from death in the original Passover, being ‘passed over’ by death because of the blood of the unblemished lamb that was marked upon the doors and lintels of their houses. Thus, by the shedding of the Body of Christ, our Paschal Lamb and His Precious Blood, we have been marked as God’s beloved ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, then in one of the most important of the readings tonight, that of the crossing of the Red Sea, all of us are brought to attention on what we have been going through this Holy Week and through these events, together with God. As the Israelites were pursued by the Egyptians to the edge of the Red Sea, God opened the Sea before them and they all crossed on the dry seabed to the other side, towards their freedom and the Promised Land, marking the definitive moment when they gained their complete freedom from the rule of the Egyptians, as God crushed the Egyptians right behind them.

Hence, tonight, on this holiest and Mother of all Holy Vigils, we celebrate the moment when the Lord brought us all, who have shared in His humanity and therefore His death on the Cross, into the new life and existence, through His glorious Resurrection that we therefore will also share, and which we have entered through the Sacrament of Baptism when all of us, as Christians, were welcomed into the Church be it as infants or as adults. And we remember therefore this most sacred and wonderful night when the Lord led us through the valleys of darkness and death, and into life everlasting.

For through the waters of baptism, we have passed through death and into new life, just as water is capable both of destruction as well as giving life. For the Lord has, by the authority and the efforts of His Church, gathered all of us from among the nations and brought us into His embrace, that we may not be separated any longer, instead being reconciled and reunited fully with God, cleansed from the taints of our original sin, the sin of disobedience against God, and the corruption which had separated us from the love and grace of God.

Through the waters of baptism, God restored the grace and life to us and our existence, purified and cleansed, ready to start again with God and walking with Him. We have been made whole once again through baptism, and we have received pardon and absolution for those sins we committed or for those things that we failed to do. A new life has been given to us, which is possible thanks to Christ Himself, Who has gone through suffering and death, and finally the Resurrection to overcome death for all of us.

Thus, by His Resurrection, Christ showed us that sin and death do not have the final say over us. For He has conquered death itself by rising gloriously from the dead. Through His Resurrection, the Lord broke free the chains that kept mankind trapped through sin, and led them to a new future, one where sin no longer have any power and dominion over any of us. He proved to all of us that while all of us mortals will experience death and the end of our earthly life one day, but that is not the end of the road for us.

Through baptism, all of us have been gathered into the one Body of Christ, the Church, and have been given the assurance of eternal life, in the world to come, where we shall share in the glory of the Lord, the blissful life and existence of fullness of grace. However, all these will be ours in due time. And if we are wondering why is it that although we have been baptised, that we still need to regularly confess our sins and resist the temptations to sin, it is because through baptism, we have received the assurance of eternal life through Christ and sin no longer has power or dominion over us, but it is also our free will to choose to be enslaved by sin again and to reject God and His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, hence, tonight as we gather together to celebrate this most holy of all nights, the time of the Lord’s triumph and victory over evil and sin, over the darkness and death, let us all renew our baptismal promises with great vigour and zeal, with renewed desire to love God and to be closer to Him, to be more obedient and committed to Him. Let us make that commitment with genuine intention and the courage to live our lives henceforth as dedicated Christians at all times.

Our baptism is just the beginning of a great and new journey, just as the Israelites began their journey through the desert after crossing the Red Sea and after making the Covenant with God at Mount Sinai. They fell many times and they were tempted many times, disobeying God and fell into the darkness again and again. But God patiently continued to love them and tried to bring them back from the wrong path. The same therefore applies to us as well, brothers and sisters. Our Christian life is one of struggle and also filled with challenges, often daily, in which we often may have to choose between following and obeying God, or following the norms of the world and the society, among others.

As we enter into this season of Easter, let us all pass through this night as a renewed person, in each and every one of us. For those who are baptised this night, it is a momentous event, when they accept God fully as their Lord and Saviour, and enter into this new life, the Christian life blessed by God. And for all of us otherwise, we are renewing our baptismal promises tonight as mentioned, in this Easter Vigil Mass, and it should also be a momentous event in our lives, as we are reminded yet again, year after year, to keep ourselves holy and devoted to God, and not to fall again into the temptations of sin.

Let us all pray for one another that we may persevere ever more in the struggle against evil, and that we may always be faithful and find the courage in us to stand up for the truth and for our faith. Let us all pray for all those around the world, our fellow brethren who are unable to celebrate the Easter joy properly due to various reasons, either because of persecution, civil unrest and disturbances, war and conflict, among many other reasons. We pray that God will continue to watch over them, and if there are things that we can do to help, let us contribute in whatever way we can.

Most importantly, let us all live our lives henceforth as a liberated people, free from sin, if our past have been often troubled and filled with the darkness. Let us reject Satan, his many temptations, and sin in all of its forms, and let us be exemplary in our way of living from now on, that we may become truly an Easter people, a people who truly belong to the Lord, and everyone will know that we are Christians because of our actions, words and deeds in life, that is centred on Christ, Our Risen Lord and Saviour, upholding His truth and living virtuously according to His Law and teachings.

Let us be inspiration for one another, and help support each other especially if we see our brothers or sisters who are struggling, either in the worldly matters or even more importantly, in their spiritual matters and their faith. There have already been enough troubles in the past few months and years, and we should be the bearers of the Light of Christ in this world, bearing forth that Light by which Christ, Our Lord and Saviour triumphed over the darkness of evil and sin. By our lives and our faith, let us bring Christ’s light and truth to the nations, that more and more may come to believe in Him and become His disciples and followers.

May God bless us all, and may He guide us in our journey, particularly through this blessed season of Easter, so that all of us may grow ever stronger in our faith and dedication, and that we may be ever better examples to our fellow men and women, and together as one Church, let us all bear witness to Our Lord’s Resurrection, and do what we can to glorify His Name, through our daily lives and actions. May all of us have a most blessed and wonderful Easter, and may God, Our Risen Lord and Saviour be with us all. Amen.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 1-7

At that time, when the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint the Body. And very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But, as they looked up, they noticed that the stone had already been rolled away. It was a very big stone.

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right, and they were amazed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth Who was crucified; He has been raised and is not here. This is, however, the place where they laid Him. Now go, and tell His disciples and Peter : Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there, just as He told you.”

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm after Epistle)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 1-2, 16ab and 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.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Epistle)

Liturgical Colour : White

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 His 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.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm after Seventh Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 41 : 3, 5bcde 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 will I 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)

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Alternative Psalm (If there is Baptism)

Psalm 50 : 12-13, 14-15, 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.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Seventh Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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 she 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 profaned 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.”

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm after Sixth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 11

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of the Lord is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of the Lord are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of the Lord are true, all of them just and right.

They are more precious than gold – pure gold of a jeweller; they are much sweeter than honey which drops from the honeycomb.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Sixth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Baruch 3 : 9-15, 32 – Baruch 4 : 4

Listen, Israel, to the commands of life, give ear so as to learn prudence. Why, Israel! Why are you in the land of your foes? Why are you growing old in a foreign country, contaminated by pagans, counted among those who go to the pit? You have abandoned the source of Wisdom. If you had walked in the way of God, peace would be your dwelling place forever.

Learn where is Wisdom, where is Strength and Understanding, that you may know, at the same time, where are length of days and life, light of the eyes and Peace. Who will find Wisdom’s dwelling? Who will enter her storage rooms? But He Who knows everything recognises her. He has found her in His own intellect. He Who created the earth, for all time, and has filled it with four-footed beings.

He Who sends the light, and it goes, Who recalls it, and trembling it obeys. The stars shine, full of joy, to keep their night watches. He calls them and they answer, “Here we are.” They shine with joy for their Creator. It is He Who is our God, no other can be compared with Him. He has found the way of understanding and has given her to Jacob His servant and to Israel His well-beloved. Then Wisdom was seen on earth and lived among humans.

She herself is the book of the commands of God, the law which endures forever. All who hold fast to her will have life but those who abandon her will die. Come back, Jacob, and embrace her, walk towards brightness under her light. Do not give up what is your glory or sell your privileges to any strange nation. We are fortunate, o Israel, for we know what pleases the Lord!

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm after Fifth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Fifth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 55 : 1-11

Come here, all you who are thirsty, come to the water! All who have no money, come! Yes, without money and at no cost, buy and drink wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not food and labour for what does not satisfy? Listen to me, and you will eat well; you will enjoy the richest of fare.

Incline your ear and come to Me; listen, that your soul may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, I will fulfil in you My promises to David. See, I have given him for a witness to the nations, a leader and commander of the people. Likewise you will summon a nation unknown to you, and nations that do not know you will come hurrying to you for the sake of YHVH your God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has promoted you.

Seek YHVH while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked abandon his way, let him forsake his thoughts, let him turn to YHVH for He will have mercy, for our God is generous in forgiving. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways are not your ways, says YHVH.

For as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is My Word that goes forth out of My mouth : It will not return to Me idle, but It shall accomplish My will, the purpose for which It has been sent.