Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Easter Vigil - Year B

Romans 6: 3-11; Mark 16:1-7

When the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea and saw their enemies destroyed by the returning waters; when they saw themselves free from their cruel slavery in Egypt; when they saw the greatness and the power of their God and his faithfulness to his promises - they sang! - the first song recorded in the Scriptures. And it was a beautiful song - a joyful litany of all the great things their mighty God had done for them.

Tonight we entered the darkened church and shuffled down the aisles to our places guided only by the light of the Easter Candle, the light of the risen Christ. We reached out and lit our tapers from that candle and saw the darkness in the church pushed back by the invading brightness. The mystically minded among us may have suddenly noticed in that gathering light that their feet were now standing on the far shore of the Red Sea, that their great enemy death had been destroyed, and that they were now freed from slavery to sin. Their mighty Lord had conquered; he had risen from the dead; he had restored all creation in himself. What else could we do but sing!

And we did! We stood together in the 'holy light' of the Paschal Candle and the great prayer of praise and exultation which has been sung for almost 1500 years, maybe more, was intoned. This hymn, called 'the Exultet', unveils the mighty works accomplished by the resurrection of Christ our Lord and it was sung like the Hebrews sang, with wonderment and incredulous joy.

This night makes everything new, sets everything free, bandages every wound and wipes away every tear. It raises the dead and destroys the darkness of sin, restoring us to friendship with God. It forms the motley, ragtag tribe of Hebrew slaves into a people for God, freed to become the Chosen People. Not a single corner of the cosmos is left untouched because the light of the resurrection illuminates all creation; nothing is left unredeemed, not even a single second of time past, present, or future. Who could refrain from singing, who would dare to be sad on this night?

The Easter Candle will stand in our midst until it is replaced at the Easter Vigil next year. It will be lit at every Mass during the Easter season because Easter is the feast of Christ, our Light. It will be lit at every Baptism - every time an infant or an adult is brought through the waters of the Red Sea from slavery in Egypt to freedom as God's children.

My dear friends, we heard the cantor ask just now the question we have all asked ourselves at some point: What good would life have been to us, had not Christ come as our Redeemer? Tonight we celebrate the Light which answers every question, every doubt that we might ever have. In the presence of the Risen Christ there are no longer any questions; Jesus is the answer to them all. Let each one of us, especially if we have anxieties, fears, hopes, dreams, longings, sins, angers, hurts, sufferings, let each one of us say: Tonight Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and so tonight we too have risen. There is no more to fear. Alleluia!

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