Sunday, May 12, 2019

Easter Vigil: Dying and Rising with Christ

April 20, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

“At daybreak on the 1st day of the week, the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus took the spices they have prepared and went to the tomb.” We accompany tonight these women for we, too, had come from Galilee with Jesus. This journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, in a sense, is what our Lenten Journey is all about. It was a 40 day journey of prayer and fasting. It was a 40 day ascent to Jerusalem where, Jesus said, he was to suffer in the hands of evil men and die in order to enter into his glory. Throughout this Lenten journey, we shared in our Lord’s battle against the devil. Jesus began it by fasting in the desert where he was tempted by Satan. He overcame the seductions of the evil one by his constant absolute and unconditional obedience to the Father’s will. He was obedient until death, death on the Cross. He accomplished everything the Father sent him to do. His obedience undid the curse of Adam’s disobedience. His humiliation destroyed the arrogant works of the devil.

He invited us to accompany him in this ascent to Jerusalem. This he did by revealing to us ugliness and danger of sin. Then, he revealed to us the Father who is the true Source of Joy and Mercy. He invited us to repent lest we “perish as they did.” As what happened to the prodigal son, he wanted us to come to our senses and return to the Father. He assures us not to fear because he will not condemn us if we return to him. Through prayer and fasting for 40 days, we have prepared ourselves for tonight’s feast.
And so, we are here with the women at the tomb. The heavy stone which the soldier used to seal the tomb was meant to keep the corpse of Jesus in it. But it was not heavy enough. The stone was rolled away. Nothing can keep Jesus in the tomb. “Death no longer has power over him.” The living One cannot be found among the dead. He is no longer in the tomb for he has risen from the dead.

And we will also rise with him to eternal life only if we accompany him in his death. We died with him when we were baptized. In the waters of baptism, the old Adam died and was buried in it. We have risen as a new creation. And this is what we are reminded of year after year. Every year, we pray and fast for 40 days so that on the Easter Vigil like the one we celebrate today, we would be worthy to renew our baptismal promises. We come to the tomb to be reminded again and again that we have already died with Christ and that we must live lives renewed in baptismal grace. Maybe time and again, we forget who were as like the prodigal son who forgot that he was his father’s son. Maybe time and again, we have become unfaithful to God, our first love, as the adulterous woman was.  But every Lent, we are given the grace to rise from where we have fallen to return to the house of the Father. Every Lent, we are given the grace to hear the loving words of the Lord: “I do not condemn you. Go and from now on, do not sin anymore.

Having been absolved of our sins through confession, we now come to the tomb. We stand rejoicing in the fact that God’s forgiveness renews all things. God’s forgiveness renews us. We stand amazed at what had happened. We are amazed at how the dead Savior can rise again. We stand amazed at how we, who were dead in sin, can be raised by the forgiveness of the Lord. We stand amazed at how we, who were condemned to die, “now live in newness of life.” “A dead person has been absolved from sin.”

To be here at the tomb during this Easter Vigil is indeed a grace which we should treasure. Let us strive not to lose this grace of new life. Let us not carelessly give it up for the fleeting pleasures of the world. Let us resolve to no longer go back to the slavery of sin. Let us “think of (ourselves) as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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