Homily for Easter Vigil mass

Jesus Christ is risen from the dead

Theme: Death has been defeated

This is a great night!  When God made us he drew us from the depths of the immense ocean of his love and set us on an earthly shore then invited us to freely return to him. From the very beginning of our existence we have developed a deep essence of relating with him. Every tribe and nation lives this truth in a unique manner. God has established us in an inescapable relationship as an indelible component of our constitution like our need for oxygen and water.

God saw that it was good! When Adam and Eve turned away from God they as well turned away from each other and found themselves in disgrace. With this action their divine destiny could no longer be accomplished. Adam and Eve were doomed to live in a profound inner frustration that could never be resolved. Previously they had been made for union with God but now it was no longer possible to reach him ever. This story of Adam and Eve’s rejection of God was repeated several times throughout salvation history. Every time God attempted to love us we “ran away: … the more I called to them, the further they went from me” Hosea 11:2.

The reason for this running away from God is our sin which started with Adam and Eve and is still continuing to the present day. On the Cross, sin crucified the innocent instead of the guilty. This desperate awfulness of the Cross makes sense only when we realize that its victim is totally innocent. In a similar manner the ecstasy of Easter makes sense only if we remember that we are sinners. Keen enough we can see that almost every page of Sacred Scripture reveals the incomprehensible love of God for people but also people’s reprehensible refusal to respond.

Awareness of sin doesn’t put a damper on the joy of Easter; instead it forms part of the essential glory and foundation of its victory. Those of us who suffer from the modern reluctance and even refusal to acknowledge the reality of sin, will inevitably find that their celebration of Easter is reduced to a vague and impoverished notion of ‘poor Jesus on the Cross’.

New Testament reading: Romans 6:3-11

Here, Paul exposes a classical statement about Baptism beyond mere sprinkling of water but going down into the tomb with Christ. In Baptism our old life is buried only to emerge clothed in the resurrection of Christ. Baptism assures us that in the future, we will share in the glory of Christ. Jesus entered the world that was under the dominion of sin and death. He lived with sinners though he knew no sin cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21. At the end, he rose from the dead. By our baptism we too have gone into the tomb with him but we shared his life after rising “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” Galatians 2:20. Christ living in us is the privilege that Easter restores every moment we celebrate it.

The Gospel:  Mark 16:1-7

Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, three ladies go to the grave to embalm the body of Jesus. To their surprise, the grave is empty and the body is no longer there. Then they hear a voice calling them not to be afraid. Are you searching for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified? He is not here, he is risen. The ladies are instructed to go and tell the disciples that the risen Lord is going ahead to Galilee; it is there that they will see him. Not to be afraid means to go back to daily duties with the conviction that Jesus who is alive is present here. Not to be afraid is to make him known to all those who seek him. This is the good news which humanity has been waiting for. Easter message announces that God is not dead. He is alive and he gives life. In Christ our Christian life is a commitment to life. Easter makes us believe in God the Father almighty creator of heaven and earth while Jesus and the Holy Spirit make all happen. Easter affirms the resurrection of the body and life everlasting as a mystery of faith but a reality that assures Jesus’ return in glory.

Easter is all about the challenge to love

Easter is about what God should have done to us sinners but didn’t. Disobedient humanity is like a useless tree to be pulled out by the roots but God says: “My heart recoils from it, my whole being trembles at the thought. I will not give rein to my fierce anger … for I am God, not man: I am the Holy One in your midst and have no wish to destroy” Hosea 11:8-9. God the heavenly Father is the word who becomes flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This man Jesus came to do the will of God and to give him the loving obedience we had rejected. All that God had been looking for in the human race he finally found in Jesus and his yearning for a true relationship with his people was satisfied. The most loathsome expression of our sinfulness is that we killed Jesus. The passion and death of Jesus was the test that God had in store for him and we were the ones who put him to that test. God took our own evil and made it a part of his plan, to show us how much He loved us and how much we are worth in his eyes. And now he is Risen! He has conquered death and all of us its chief architectures.

Christ is risen and our selfishness has been overthrown! Christ is risen and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion from ages to all ages.

The tomb is Empty

Jesus has appeared

The fearful have become courageous and now are ready to change the world to its best.

 


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