Fr. Jigs Rosalinda
One of the most meaningful celebrations of Holy Week is the Easter Vigil liturgy. We all love the rituals of the Lucernarium (Service of Light—Part One), leading us from darkness to light, from sadness to joy; the large and heavy Easter Candle, and the Easter Proclamation (Exultet). All these speak to us of how wonderful the mystery that is before us is—Christ passed from death to life! This passage recalls the triumph of Christ over sin and death. When we pray and hope to attain the “festivities of unending splendor" (Blessing of Fire), we believe that the Lord's victory shall one day be ours, too!
The lineup of readings in the Easter Vigil liturgy narrates to us the history of human salvation. From Creation Story to Exodus, from Abraham and the founding of God’s Chosen People, to the Prophecies of old, the Epistles and the Gospel. We heard how God cut in, and broke into humanity’s story and made it a tale of saving us so that our history is seen within the actions of the Savior-God. We are creatures of a loving God, who redeems us in spite of our persistent sinning and mindless turning away. The covenant with the children of Israel is spoken of, naturally, because to save us God made us His partners, through Abraham, Moses and all the prophets—the people God had first chosen so that through them God would gather everyone to Himself. God chose a nation, through whom everyone shall be made God’s Chosen People. The recalling (Liturgy of the Word—Part Two) of the Old Testament shall find its culmination in Jesus. He is the new and definitive covenant between God and humanity. He is the perfect Mediator being both God and Man—the Father’s only and final Word.
The Gospel tells the story of Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the Apostles, who was the first to hear of Jesus’ rising from death. She announced to them that Jesus wished to see them in Galilee (cf Mark 16: 7)—back to where they all started their ministry. Galilee was not just any place. It was the locus of the ministry of Jesus, the first to hear the proclamation of the Good News, and witness of the miracles. This time, Jesus vowed to “go back” there. Did he regress to past memories in the hopeless claiming of what had been? Was this going back a sort of retreat because they folded up in Jerusalem where the real center of power was? For years, I have often thought of Jesus’ words to Mary Magdalene, and asked myself these same questions. One particular word has stood out, “renewal”. Jesus made a conscious choice to meet the disciples in the place that was dear to all of them, in order to refresh their memories which had been shattered by his death, and to renew their friendship and love. Peter and the disciples surely could make use of this, after their witless betrayal and brazencowardice. This thought is consistent with the lesson of these lengthy readings we go through tonight. God is renewing his friendship with fallen humanity. We see a great light rise in the midst of the shadows. We are washed clean of the ancient stain of original sin in the font of baptism which we renew today (Renewal of Baptismal Promises—Part Three), with firm conviction that the light of Christ will surely scatter our darkest and deepest nights, and his resurrection, our senseless deaths.