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!

Sunday, 12 April 2020 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 28 : 1-10

At that time, after the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake : an Angel of the Lord descending from heaven, came to the stone, rolled it from the entrance of the tomb, and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and his garment white as snow. The guards trembled in fear and became like dead man when they saw the Angel.

The Angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, Who was crucified. He is not here, for He is risen as He said. Come, see the place where they laid Him; then go at once and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there. This is my message for you.

They left the tomb at once in fear, yet with great joy, and they ran to tell the news to His disciples. Suddenly, Jesus met them on the way and said, “Rejoice!” The woman approached Him, embraced His feet and worshipped Him. But Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid! Go and tell My brothers to set out for Galilee; there they will see Me.”

Sunday, 12 April 2020 : 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, 12 April 2020 : 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, 12 April 2020 : 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, 12 April 2020 : 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, 12 April 2020 : 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, 12 April 2020 : 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, 12 April 2020 : 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, 12 April 2020 : 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.