The Easter Vigil’s Gospel account is Matthew 28:1–10:
After the sabbath, as the aboriginal day of the anniversary was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the added Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a abundant earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, formed aback the stone, and sat aloft it. His actualization was like lightning and his accouterment was white as snow. The guards were annoyed with abhorrence of him and became like asleep men. Again the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I apperceive that you are gluttonous Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been aloft aloof as he said. Come and see the abode area he lay. Again go bound and acquaint his disciples, ‘He has been aloft from the dead, and he is activity afore you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I accept told you.” Again they went abroad bound from the tomb, aflutter yet overjoyed, and ran to advertise this to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, accepted his feet, and did him homage. Again Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go acquaint my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
This morning’s Gospel account is John 20:1–9:
On the aboriginal day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb aboriginal in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the bean removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the added adherent whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They accept taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t apperceive area they put him.” So Peter and the added adherent went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the added adherent ran faster than Peter and accustomed at the tomb first; he angled bottomward and saw the burying cloths there, but did not go in. Aback Simon Peter accustomed afterwards him, he went into the tomb and saw the burying cloths there, and the bolt that had covered his head, not with the burying cloths but formed up in a abstracted place. Again the added adherent additionally went in, the one who had accustomed at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet accept the Scripture that he had to acceleration from the dead.
Several years ago, my wife and I began accessory the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening, rather than Sunday morning Mass as we had done before. We had abounding our aboriginal Vigil Mass for a acquaintance of ours who had adapted from atheism to Catholicism and who accustomed the sacraments for the aboriginal time that evening. This took abode afore my accuracy into the diaconate and my admiration to burrow added acutely into the bookish and airy ambit of my Catholic faith, and in allotment aggressive that call. We accept gone anytime aback to Easter Vigil, and for the aftermost few years I accept had the advantage of actuality a lector at it, as I was this evening.
What draws me to this celebration, the longest Mass of the year? Of all our angelic canicule and observations during the year, the Easter Vigil provides the best encompassing eyes and anniversary of the amount of our faith: the plan of salvation. It starts in absolute darkness, which recedes gradually as we apprehend aloud from the scriptures alpha with Genesis 1:1. We apprehend of God’s adulation and advantage through conception to Abraham, from Moses and the Exodus to Isaiah, Baruch, Ezekiel, and through the Psalms to the Gospel. As the plan for conservancy unfolds, we abound afterpiece to the light, until Christ is adored and we are absolutely aural it.
It is a anniversary of achievement and surrender, of falling and actuality aerial up, a anniversary of the adulation of God for us alike with our infirmities and unworthiness. We bless the joy of alive that love, which Jesus approved by doing for us what we could never do for ourselves — advantageous our predilection to sin and acquisition death, aperture the aftermost mile of conservancy for those who accept it.
This Mass provides us a absolute attending at that plan of conservancy of which we glimpse in accustomed Masses. It reminds us of our fortune, alike in the bosom of our affliction and suffering, of alive what our admiring Lord has planned for us. Tonight I apprehend from Baruch 3, in which the astrologer reminded Israel of that acceptable affluence at a time aback best had alone it.
Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life: listen, and apperceive prudence! How is it, Israel, that you are in the acreage of your foes, developed old in a adopted land, besmirched with the dead, accounted with those destined for the netherworld? You accept forsaken the bubbler of wisdom! Had you absolved in the way of God, you would accept dwelt in constant peace. Learn area abstemiousness is, area strength, area understanding; that you may apperceive additionally area are breadth of days, and life, area ablaze of the eyes, and peace. Who has begin the abode of wisdom, who has entered into her treasuries?
The One who knows all things knows her; he has probed her by his knowledge— the One who accustomed the apple for all time, and abounding it with four-footed beasts; he who dismisses the light, and it departs, calls it, and it obeys him trembling; afore whom the stars at their posts flash and rejoice; aback he calls them, they answer, “Here we are!” animated with joy for their Maker. Such is our God; no added is to be compared to him: He has traced out the accomplished way of understanding, and has accustomed her to Jacob, his servant, to Israel, his admired son.
Since again she has appeared on earth, and confused amid people. She is the book of the precepts of God, the law that endures forever; all who adhere to her will live, but those will die who abdicate her. Turn, O Jacob, and accept her: airing by her ablaze against splendor. Give not your celebrity to another, your privileges to an conflicting race. Blessed are we, O Israel; for what pleases God is accepted to us!
When account this for the aboriginal time in alertness for the Easter Vigil Mass, it articulate to me like a admonishment — and it is, of course. Baruch’s prophetic admiral took abode during the Assyrian banishment of the arctic commonwealth of Israel and the additional beachcomber of the Babylonian banishment from Judea. The Israelites and the Judeans both begin themselves bound in “the acreage of their foes … defiled” for their defiance to God and abnegation to abide to His will for salvation. Baruch tells Israel that they acquisition themselves in this position through their own choices and the acerbity of their hearts. They alone the Lord, not the added way around.
But Baruch delivers abundant added than a rebuke. He offers a affiance — the affiance that God’s adulation for them continues, as it does for all His creation. He waits for His bodies to acknowledge to Him, and will be accessible aback they do. In adjustment for the bodies to do so, He has beatific the prophets to allege His chat and to alarm them aback to the aisle of conservancy — and they should rejoice in that knowledge. “Blessed are we, O Israel,” he says to the bodies who accept been marched into bullwork and oppression, “for what pleases God is accepted to us!”
This foreshadows the advancing of the Messiah as well. We accept marched ourselves into slavery, besmirched ourselves by sin with the dead, but we are not destined for the netherworld unless we accept it. The band of the prophets point anon to Jesus, who comes to accomplish alike added apparent what pleases God in the Gospels. We accept alike added acumen to rejoice today, as the afterlife and awakening of the Word, the Son of God approved already and for all aloof how abundant God loves us, and how audibly He has laid out the plan for our own salvation. We can now rejoice in His goodness, and in Christ’s victory, and airing that aisle by wisdom’s ablaze against the brightness of eternal life.
Jesus Christ is risen today — hallelujah!
The front-page angel is a medieval carpeting on affectation at the Vatican Museum; the photo is from my own collection.
“Sunday Reflection” is a approved feature, attractive at the specific readings acclimated in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes about the world. The absorption represents only my own point of view, advised to advice adapt myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a allusive discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the capital folio can be found here. For antecedent Green Room entries, click here.
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