As always, the First Reading of the Great Easter Vigil is the creation account from the Book of Genesis. We are called back to our roots, to our Divine DNA. The One Who created everything we worship this Holy Night for He has now Redeemed and Restored the same creation.
Everything comes from God’s creative love. Easter is celebrated in the Spring – and not by chance. As Cardinal Ratzinger reflects in his book, Behold the Pierced One, Jesus spoke often of “his hour” and that his ‘hour’ had not yet come on those occasions when the Pharisees and Priests sought his life. Jesus chose the ‘hour’ of his death (and resurrection), in association with the Passover, with the first full moon of Spring. Thus he unites once again the entire universe with His saving act.
Spring, is a time when the earth is waking up from the sleep of winter to give birth to every form of life all over again. The Passover is a time set aside each year to remember how God in his marvelous works set his people free from slavery. Recalling the death of the first born (Christ) and the slaughter of the unblemished lamb (Christ) are meant to evoke the saving power of God through His Son. They are meant to evoke the salvation of all people of every time.
Springtime is as powerful a symbol of resurrection as creation can offer.
This Holy Night uses well the primary forces of creation. LIGHT: The Easter Fire initiates our celebration as we begin in Darkness to reveal once again that the Light of Christ conquers darkness (resurrection!) We sing the praise of the paschal candle which is the symbol of the Light of Christ.
WATER is another sign of Life. Water bestows fruitfulness. Nothing grows without water. The absolute necessity of water is uniquely understood in the desert. Water as we know is also a primary source of cleansing and refreshment.
Finally, as the Easter Vigil and the entire Easter celebration reveal, the human voice is another powerful force of nature. Today, the Church sings again the great Alleluia! and gives praise to God.
As all of creation ‘gives birth’ once again this Spring, so too, the Church in the waters of Baptism, “the grace by which God has erased sin, restored innocence, and conferred justification that makes the soul worthy of eternal life.” (St. Bonaventure; The Triple Way)
The Paschal Lamb; The Lamb of God: “According to the Book of Revelation, the Lamb alone can open the seals of history. It is the Lamb, who appears as slain and yet lives, who receives the homage of all creatures in heaven and earth. The lamb which lets itself be killed without complaint is a symbol of meekness: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Mt 5:5). The Lamb with his mortal wound tells us that, in the end, it is not those who kill who will be the victors; on the contrary, the world is sustained by those who sacrifice themselves. It is the sacrifice of him who becomes the “Lamb slain” that holds heaven and earth together. True victory lies in this sacrifice. It gives rise to that life which imparts a meaning to history, through all its atrocities, and which can finally turn them into a song of joy.” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger; Behold The Pierced One, p. 114)
Christ Conquers Death (Sin); Christ is our Life.
When I have known darkness in my own life, it is only when I turn it over to Christ that I experience conversion, light, victory, resurrection … holiness. Christ, in uniting us more closely with Himself – makes it possible for us to live in greater harmony with others. For true life is one of relationship, of communion. When these are damaged or do not exist, there is despair, and persons quickly shrivel up and die without this light, this truth, this goodness.
But when we encounter Christ, when we allow Christ to be our Truth, our Way, our Life, then we know the fullness of life! Then we know joy, meaning and purpose. Then we know true freedom, because then we know God.
Look around, all of creation is coming to life again, and all of creation, every one of us, traces our origins back to One Source, God. Just as every part of God’s creation has an inner orientation to the Creator that gives rise to the cycle of life, so too does every human being. When the harmony of all that God created was disrupted through sin, He came among us and took the full force of this consequence, in all of its ugliness and force, to restore and redeem through the power of Love. “Behold, the Lamb of God.”
God, the Risen Christ, the God of LIFE and LOVE is our true DNA. That is why we can live each day with the faith and hope that it is possible to live without sin; that it is not only possible, but it is God’s desire that we live lives of holiness.
Christ said: “Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.” My dear friends, let us find the Risen Christ within us again this Easter as we renew our Baptismal promises. Let us love and serve the Risen Christ within our neighbor. By such acts of faith and love, we bring heaven to earth. Let us follow the Lamb of God, Risen and Redeemer to a better world in this life, and to to eternal life!