Saturday, 20 April 2019 : 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! On this most blessed night, the greatest of all nights and the greatest of all days in the entire liturgical year, we celebrate the long awaited moment of when the Lord Jesus Christ has been risen from the dead, the coming of Easter after the long wait during our Lenten observance for more than forty days including the sacred Holy Week observances. On this day we mark the great culmination of the work of the Lord’s salvation, the triumph of the Cross and the Resurrection of Our Lord in glory.

The Resurrection completed the Passion of Our Lord, the suffering, pain and trials He had suffered as He endured the pain of the Cross, which would have all been meaningless and fruitless had He not risen from the dead, and therefore remained dead as all other men were. He rose from the dead by His own glorious might and power, to show that not even death had the power and dominion over Him, as He is truly the Master over life and death.

On this night, we celebrate that very moment when Christ overcome the tyranny of death, which is caused by sin. Death is the sting of sin, and all of us have been freed from its power by the Lord’s own action, His selfless offering on the Cross, by which He united us all to His death, in dying to our own sinful selves, and through which He then united us all to His resurrection, as we enter into the new life blessed and filled with God’s grace.

In the many Scripture passages and readings we heard on this blessed Easter Vigil, seven from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament, we are constantly reminded of the Lord’s many good works, providence and love for each and every one of us mankind, throughout the history of our world, from the beginning of time and creation, and leading through the ages to the culmination of God’s saving works in the glorious resurrection.

We are reminded first of all, of the creation of the world, when God imposed order on chaos that existed before then, and the first thing that God did, was to bring forth Light into the world, into a world that was once filled with darkness. And then, He created all things, all creatures that were all made good and perfect, just as their Creator Himself is all good and perfect. And in the same manner, all of us mankind, were made as the culmination of God’s work of creation, created in His own image and likeness.

Thus, that was how God created the whole world, and all of us mankind, created good and perfect in all that God had intended. But unfortunately, through our disobedience and by our refusal to obey the Lord’s commands, and by our choice to side with the devil and follow his tempting words, we have been made unclean and unworthy, sundered from God’s grace and separated from His love. That was how we have fallen into sin and into our unfortunate state.

Yet, the Lord continued to love each and every one of us regardless of the sins we have committed. Indeed He despised all of the sins we have committed in life, but He did not despise us all, those whom He Himself had created with His hands, made out of His love for each and every one of us. If God has not loved us so dearly, He would have destroyed us outright the very moment we chose to abandon Him and to commit abominable sins in our lives, and cast us immediately into hell.

It was God’s enduring love for all of us that we have come to celebrate throughout the entirety of this Holy Week and Paschal Triduum, as we recall the love that He has for every one of us, so great that He willingly emptied Himself of all glory and honour, and humbled Himself to bring about the salvation of all the world, of all mankind. And He did all these by assuming the flesh of Man, that He might share with us our humanity, and therefore, uniting ourselves to His suffering and death, He might bring us through the journey to embrace the fullness of His redemption and mercy, and receive from Him, the fullness of grace and eternal life.

And through the mysteries celebrated this Holy Week and Paschal Triduum, we saw how God restored to us all, the graces He has intended for us all mankind since the beginning of time. We may have been deterred temporarily through sin, and we probably had faced this obstacle in our journey due to the many temptations present in our respective lives, but God is calling on us to embrace the new life that He is now calling us into, a new life and existence in Him.

We heard from the second reading today, how God established His Covenant with Abraham, promising him that his descendants would be numerous and would form many nations, and Abraham promised to be faithful to God and to His Covenant, and that his descendants would do so as well. This is the Covenant that the people of Israel upheld, and which they carried with them as they went through what we heard in our third reading passage today, of the time of the salvation of Israel from the hands of their oppressors.

And on this day, on the occasion of the Easter Vigil, the third reading from the Book of Exodus invites us to reflect on the moment of our own baptism, and on those who are going to be baptised in the Rite of the Christian Initiation later on in today’s liturgy. We heard how the Israelites were fleeing from their former masters and oppressors, the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, who hardened their hearts and changed their minds about letting the Israelites to go free to the land promised to them by God.

The Egyptians chased them to the edge of the Red Sea, when the Israelites despaired having seen themselves pressed between the sea and their enemies. But God reassured them and stood between them and death, and through Moses, opened the sea itself before their eyes. They walked through the dry seabed, and crossed to the other side safely, while their oppressors were destroyed by the same waters, when the Lord crushed them all with the rushing waves as they tried to pursue God’s people.

And this is a reminder to each and every one of us, how God has brought us through the water of baptism, as we have all been sealed by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, in the Name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and for those who are about to be baptised tonight, this moment was just about to come, like the Israelites who were once frightened and fearful for their lives at the edge of the Red Sea, and yet, God made them to walk safely through the water.

Water is capable of both destruction and of nurturing lives. Water in its destructiveness can cause such harm that led to the loss of much property and human lives, and how it destroyed the armies and chariots of Pharaoh was ample proof of how water was capable of destruction. Yet, water is also capable of bringing life to us, for without water, nothing can live and survive, and water nourishes and nurtures life.

Therefore, by reflecting on the salvation of Israel at the crossing of the Red Sea, we recall our own baptism, and prepare ourselves to witness our brethren who are going to have theirs this very night. Through baptism, we have been united to the Lord’s own Passion, suffering, death and most important of all, His glorious resurrection. By the water of baptism, we have entered into death, just as Christ truly died on the cross, and we die to our past, sinful and unworthy lives.

But we did not remain in death, just as the Lord did not remain in death, but rose in glory, the glory of His Easter Resurrection. And thus, just as the Israelites emerged from the Red Sea unharmed, into a new life of freedom from slavery, we too have left behind our old slavery to sin, and enter into a new life, resurrected from our sinful selves, and become sharers in the new Covenant that the Lord Himself had made with each and every one of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as mentioned in the beginning of this homily, the occasion of Easter Vigil celebrates the culmination of our Lord’s Passion and work of salvation, completing perfectly what He had begun, by the offering of His own Body and Blood, which He shared with His disciples on the Last Supper, as we share in His own Real Presence in us. Through our sharing of His Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist, we enter into the New, True and Everlasting Covenant that He Himself established with us, the children of Abraham, our father in faith.

And this Covenant is the restoration of the grace and the goodness that are ours at the beginning of time, as God Himself has become the bridge by which all of us pass through safely through the danger of death. Between us and God, there had been a chasm that separated us all because of our sins, but Jesus Christ, Our Lord, through His sacrifice on the Cross, has offered His own Precious Body and Blood, to be the atonement for our sins, and by that sacrifice, restored to us the grace that we have lost through sin.

On this day, the day of most wonderful Easter joy, we rejoice because we have been freed from sin, and through the water of baptism, either as the newly baptised or as those who have been baptised earlier on, we have received the promise of eternal life and glory from God. And we have also received the wonderful Light of Christ, reminding us of the moment of Creation, when God brought order to all chaos and created everything good and perfect. The Light of Christ has penetrated through the darkness that surrounded us, casting out from us the sins and all things that have kept us enslaved, that is our sins and wickedness.

On this day, we recall the promises which we made at baptism, when we resoundingly and resolutely reject Satan’s false promises and shows, all of his temptations, and abandon all the darkness of this world, and instead, embrace wholeheartedly the Light of Christ, our Lord and Saviour. On this day, Light has triumphed over darkness, Christ has triumphed over sin and death, our enemies and all those who sought our downfall and destruction.

On this day, we rejoice together as the whole entire Universal Church, as God has renewed in us again and again, the hope of His salvation, reminding us of the love which He has given us through the Passion of His own Beloved Son, Who suffered so grievously all of the persecutions and pains He had received, but which He endured willingly, out of His love for us. It was this enduring love and His liberation of each and every one of us from our sins that we rejoice for today.

Let us all now carry on this Easter joy in our own respective lives, and have that courage and faith in us, to bring forth the Light of Christ to the whole world. And this is our calling and responsibility as baptised Christians, to be the witnesses for the Lord, and proclaim His Risen glory to all, through our own lives, by living the message of the Good News of the Lord, by practicing in our own lives, fundamentally the love for God and the love for our fellow men.

May the Lord bless each and every one of us, that all of us will grow ever closer to God and be more attuned to His ways and be more obedient to His commandments and laws. Let us all bear the joy of Easter to all of our brethren, especially all those who are probably unable to rejoice in the same way as we do because of various reasons, either because of persecutions or because of the many distractions of the world. And let us also bear this joy of Easter to encourage all those who have not yet received or seen the light of Christ, by showing that Light in our own lives and actions.

Let us all be joyful bearers of Christ’s truth, and let us all share this Easter joy, living fully our lives with faith from now on, being role models to one another, inspiring each other to be closer to God and to be more faithful to Him. May the grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Risen Lord and Saviour be with us always. Amen.

Saturday, 20 April 2019 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 1-12

At that time, on the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, the women 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 stood before them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You will not 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.

Saturday, 20 April 2019 : 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.

Saturday, 20 April 2019 : 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.

Saturday, 20 April 2019 : 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.

Saturday, 20 April 2019 : 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.”

Saturday, 20 April 2019 : 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.