The Resurrection of the Lord – Easter Vigil: April 16, 2022
The resurrection of Jesus is the right and adequate answer for the all-important question St. Paul the Apostle raised in 1 Cor 15:55, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The Jewish leaders did think that the story of Jesus Nazareth was over with Good Friday but the resurrection of Jesus disproved their thinking was wrong. Jesus cannot die anymore or rather Jesus is alive and is present everywhere. Death is a reality but it cannot have the last word. It is life that will always triumph. As Jesus of Nazareth he was caught up in space and time but as the resurrected Lord, Jesus crossed all the barriers and is present everywhere and all the time. Alleluiah!
The resurrection narrative from the Gospel of Luke depends upon the witness of three women Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James besides a few more who in turn depend upon the words of two men who appeared to them. Evangelists St. Mathew and St. Mark speak of an angel while St. Luke speaks of two men in angelic appearance. Yes! They were angels. The Greek word angelos simply means a messenger. In the context of our Gospel passage they are God’s own messengers who can never say a lie. Their question acquires all the more importance, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again” (Luke 24:5-7). St. Luke says that the disciples of Jesus considered their witness as pure nonsense and did not believe them. These are the same men who didn’t believe Jesus who said, not once but three times that he would rise again. If they don’t believe their Master how would they believe in the witness of the women? Jesus is indeed risen, Alleluiah!
The resurrection of Jesus is all about the plan of God coming true and fulfillment of the Scriptures in due time. The resurrection of Jesus is all about the victory of light over darkness, victory of truth over untruth and victory of life over death. The resurrection of Jesus rang the death bell to the death itself. We are the people of resurrection. That means we live on hope and joy. It is because the risen Lord is with us.
The liturgical readings of the Easter Vigil invite us to relive the key moments of the History of Salvation and touch the milestones with a sense of gratitude and love for antiquity. The History of Salvation begins with the creation of the world. Everything came to be because God willed it and because God willed it, everything is good. That the good Lord took rest on the seventh day helped the people of Israel to establish, maintain and sanctify the Sabbath day. The need for renewal is felt by humanity and therefore the Psalmist in Ps 104 sings, “Send forth your spirit, O Lord and renew the face of the earth”.
In Abraham, God chose a nation as His own. God wanted to check on the fidelity of the chosen nation in the person of Abraham who proves his faithfulness on Mount Moriah by his willingness to sacrifice his only son Isaac. The Second Reading from the Book of Genesis ends on a very high note when God who is pleased with Abraham’s attitude and blesses him with the following words, “I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore… and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:17-18). Ps 15 confirms the attitude of Abraham as he is portrayed as someone who took refuge in the Lord with an earnest prayer, “Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you”.
The Third Reading from the Book of Exodus recalls the fundamental liberation event called the Exodus. The author of the Book of Exodus summarizes the event in the following words: “But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; … So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses” (Exod 14:29-31). The Canticle that follows this reading is a follow-up of the Event of the Exodus where the people of Israel sing to the Lord celebrating the Lord’s glorious triumph.
The Fourth Reading from the Book of Isaiah belongs to the Deutero-Isaiah and therefore speaks of the end of their exile and their return to their homeland. Therefore, we get to see the Lord’s promise being maintained. Look at the assuring words of Yahweh in Isa 54:10, “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you”.
The Fifth Reading is once again from Deutero-Isaiah where the Lord God invites the people of Israel to come to Him to renew the covenant and make it an everlasting one. He promises the people that if they come to Him, their souls will live. He compares His words to the rain and snow that come down from the heavens and never return to their sources without making the earth fertile and producing abundant fruits. The Canticle found in Isa 12 continues the same theme. The people of Israel are called to the wells of salvation from where they will draw water joyfully.
The need for a new heart to begin a new life is insisted by God through Prophet Ezekiel. It is because the House of Israel has profaned the holy name of God. The Lord says that he would sprinkle clean water upon the people of Israel. He would put my spirit within them and make them follow his statutes and be careful to observe his ordinances.
St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans compares and connects Christian Baptism as a moment to die with Christ and rise again. The people of Israel lived this experience when they walked through the Red Sea but that did not guarantee them from committing sins again. Therefore, on this Easter Vigil
- Let’s thank God for His creation
- Let’s thank God for choosing Abraham who was always faithful
- Let’s thank God for the Exodus Event, pre-figuration of our Baptismal experience
- Renewal of God’s creation and more importantly human person is a must
- Renewal of God’s covenant and fidelity to it are utmost importance
- The need for a new heart and new mind is urgent and finally
- Let’s remember to stay firm on our Baptismal promises.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.