Genesis 1:1-2:2, Gen. 22,1-18, Exam. 14:15-31;15:1, Is.54:5-14, Is.55:1-11, Bar. 3:9-15,32-37;4:1-4, Eze.36:16-28, Rom. 6:3-11, Matt.28:1-10
There are two homily notes here for our meditation. Happy Easter
Fr. Thomas Oyode
“The Lord Provides”
For the many who miss being physically present at the solemn ceremonies of Easter, especially the ceremonies of the Vigil Mass, I share in your sentiments even as we offer the intentions on your behalf. There is undoubtedly a renewed value and deeper appreciation of our coming together around the Table of the Lord to hear his word, and to share in his most Holy Body. The Easter Vigil Mass itself is amply rich., it bears messages of joy and hope as light has indeed overcome darkness and the darkness can not comprehend it, as the water of baptism washes away sin by giving new life to the baptised and by renewing the whole church, and as we ultimately share in the Holy Eucharist with the joy of renewal in Christ.
Specifically, today’s liturgy of the Word captures the entire history of our Christian faith and journey with God. The readings begin with a narration of the creation story in which we see how every of God’s action begins and ends in love. Love is the origin of creation, love redeems creation and love preserves creation. It takes us through the covenant ratification with Abraham and the promise of salvation of which Isaac is the sign of the only Son of God, on whose shoulders will rest the wood of the sacrifice of our salvation, then to the liberation of God’s People from slavery in Egypt and their journey to the Promised Land which was attended with signs and wonders. In spite of these, the People of God remained unfaithful to the most faithful God, so the Prophets kept announcing the constant cry of God and his longing for repentance and return to his love. He, the Lord himself promised to bring this about in the new covenant fulfilled in his Son, the Christ who suffered, died and rose again in glory. This is what we celebrate today.
We celebrate the fulfilment of our salvation in Christ. As St. John Chrysostom once preached, the resurrection of the Lord reveals the power of God’s faithfulness over our unfaithfulness and today both the faithful and the unfaithful are welcome to the table of the festival, “let no one go away hungry” because the Lord has conquered fear, death and hell. The Lord says, “do not be afraid”. He has overcome death, he has visited hell to declare his dominion over all of creation with the power of his light.
Precisely on the basis of this understanding, one is moved to ponder on the words of Abraham to Isaac: “the Lord will provide” (Gen. 22:8) and reading further to verse 14, we are told that at the fulfilment of Abraham’s expectation and hope, he named the place of sacrifice as yahweh-yireh (the Lord provided). This is what many wrongly say as Jehovah-jireh (another day’s catechism). Indeed, on the mountain the Lord provided. In Christ, as on Calvary, the Lord provided himself as both the Table of the sacrifice and the Sacrifice itself. Thus we celebrate the Lord’s constant faithfulness and unfailing love, the God who fulfils his promises.
Easter is a celebration of our story of God’s love in our lives, the many wonders he has brought about in our lives, his provision for our spiritual and material well-being. It is a declaration of our faith in God who takes care of us, who tells us daily “do not be afraid”. Each time we encounter doubts, frustration, depression, hopelessness and fear, let us remember that we are Easter people, we are Alleluia people, we have a God who walks with us in our history, who knows our story and who writes it beautifully with the story of his love. Let us then renew our trust and hope in him and move on with the power of the victory of his resurrection, bearing in ourselves the joy and hope of a redeemed people and not of frustration and fear. For though the earth be moved and the mountains fall into the ocean, we will not be moved, the Lord of hosts is with us and the God of Jacob is our strong hold (Ps. 46).Yes, everything has been restored in Christ. The devil and the powers of evil have been overthrown and the good God takes care of us. HAPPY EASTER.
Fr. Dan Evbotokhai
The Easter Triduum reaches its climax on this night. The vigil begins with the Service of Light in which the Easter Fire is lit and the new Paschal Candle blessed. Afterwards the faithful lights theirs. The bearer repeatedly chants “light of Christ” those present respond “thanks be to God. At the sanctuary the great Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) is sung. This great hymn reminds us of what Christ and God have done for us.
Paschal candle is the symbol of the risen Christ. The letters “alpha” and “omega” and the date of the current year are inscribed on the candle, to indicate that the beginning and end of time are inscribed in the divine eternity. Today, many claim to know the time. Just now, because of COVID 19 some are already saying the world will end this year or next month. Be careful, for only God knows.
The Liturgy of the Word follows. Seven Old Testament readings and two New Testament readings are given but, for pastoral reasons, the Old Testament readings may be reduced in number. The readings trace the history of salvation from the story of Creation to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on this night.
All the readings of today is summarised in one word – Easter. Easter means Pasch. Pasch means “passing”. The word passing recalls the historic and adventurous “passing” of the Jewish people from slavery to freedom, as seen in the 3rd reading from Exodus. It also refers to the sacrifice of the the lamb slain by the Jews before leaving Egypt which is called ” passover”. It describes Jesus the messiah and true lamb who freed humanity from sin. It also refers to the passing from Old to New testament. As we have it this night it signifies Jesus’ passing from death to life.
Christ death conquered our death. Therefore, all who have accepted his message and are baptised shall pass from death to life. In the letter to the Romans that we read, St. Paul says because of baptism, death has no power over us just as it has no power over Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, due to the present situation we cannot have baptism this night. However, Easter Water is blessed and the faithful renew their baptismal promises before being sprinkled with the Easter Water.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist is now celebrated for the first time since Holy Thursday and so the altar is decorated with candles on it. Thus, the dawn of joy and celebration for salvation gained. In spite the affliction of COVID 19 the joy of salvation is our strength. Happy Easter!
An Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.