Easter Vigil: Celebrating Salvation History

Author: Fr. Thomas Eckert, C.S.C.

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, THE LORD IS RISEN, THE LORD IS TRULY RISEN!!! ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!!!

It feels so good to exclaim that simple, yet powerful word again after not saying, singing, or hearing it for so long! Let us proclaim it again, ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!!! Yes, the Lord is truly risen!

He is Risen!

I cannot even imagine what must have been going through the minds and weaving through the hearts of the women in Luke’s gospel passage tonight. These women were in no way prepared for what they were about to find. They came from Galilee, and as we hear, they had prepared the necessary spices for preparing a body for burial.

These women were expecting death. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, along with the others who had accompanied them, all went to the tomb of Jesus expecting their teacher and friend’s lifeless body to be awaiting them there. What a journey that must have been for them. Each step, each thought, each tear bringing them, or so they thought, closer to the harsh reality of what they expected to find in that tomb. The heavy burden of the spices they carried were far outweighed by the heavy burden on their hearts that morning. 

So what a shock it must have been! Upon arriving at the tomb, might they have been initially relieved that they didn’t have to roll back the heavy stone? Or was there an immediate questioning of what in the world could be going on here?

Happy Easter

It was daybreak; surely they were the first ones at the tomb. But “they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” Who knows how long they were trying to figure out what might have happened. We do not. All we know is that, “while they were puzzling over this,” there was another surprise. “Behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.”

This was a morning they would never forget; indeed, theirs was an experience the entire world would never forget! These men in dazzling garments helped the women that morning to remember Jesus’ words, that he would be handed over, crucified, and rise on the third day. When they remembered those words, the returned to announce to all the others what they had seen.

And what they saw has been retold countless times throughout our history, and it brings us together this night. This night we celebrate what they saw: the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ! We remember the promises that God had made throughout all of salvation history, and we celebrate what all of salvation history pointed us to since the beginning of time: that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God. 

We heard the history tonight of the creation story in the Book of Genesis, in which we are reminded that what God had created, He found to be very good. Also from the Book of Genesis, we are reminded that instead of God having Abraham carry out the sacrifice of his only son, Isaac, “God Himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust.” We know that it was not Abraham’s only son, but God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, who would one day be sacrificed.

The salvation history account continued tonight as God led Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt through the Red Sea, guiding them with His saving hand. And in the reading tonight from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans, we are reminded that, because of Jesus’ saving act, we “must think of ourselves as being dead to sin, and living for God in Christ Jesus.”

Each year we celebrate the culmination of salvation history “repeating itself” on this most blessed and joyful of nights. Jesus’ selfless act has indeed won our salvation, and now two thousand years later we continue to gather and celebrate this event. We relive through the readings the account of salvation history. And, we witness the great power that continues to call us to be faithful and joyful in living the Sacraments instituted by Christ.

My Brothers and Sisters, for some among us, on this night you will be brought into the Church or into full Communion with the universal Catholic Church. You will experience, and we will witness in you the fullest sense of entering into God’s salvific plan for His faithful. Tonight, we will witness Baptisms, Confirmations, and First Holy Communions of our brothers and sisters who have been preparing throughout the year to receive their Sacraments.

Easter Vigil at St John Vianney Parish

The readings tonight reminded us of the waters of creation, the floodwaters, the saving Red Sea, the waters that quench our thirst, and the waters that make us clean – These are the waters to which our brothers and sisters will now be led, the waters of Baptism. Let us hold them up in prayer as they experience the Easter joy of being cleansed and reborn in Christ Jesus as they are received fully into the Church tonight. THE LORD IS RISEN, THE LORD IS TRULY RISEN!!! ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!!!

Fr. Thomas Eckert, C.S.C., is a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross. After working several years in various capacities at the University of Notre Dame, he now is the Pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear, Arizona, a parish that is sponsored by Holy Cross. Fr. Eckert shared his Easter Vigil homily with us as part of the Spes Unica Blog’s ongoing coverage of the Easter Triduum. May God bless all of you with the graces of His Son’s victory over sin and death. Christ is truly risen, alleluia!

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