HOLY SATURDAY / EASTER VIGIL
Ex 14:15-15:1; Rom 6:3-11; Ps 118; Lk 24:1-12
ENCOUNTERING THE RISEN CHRIST
As the world still grapples and reels under the grim reality of the pandemic, it is normal for people to give in to despair, doubts and fears. It is also very natural for many to have a pessimistic worldview during these uncertain times. But to us Christians, Holy Saturday speaks of hope instead of doubt, courage instead of fear and joy instead of despair. After having a lengthy Lenten preparation, today we welcome the Easter season with the Easter Vigil.
The Easter Vigil is said to be the mother of all vigils, specifically because it proclaims the ever faithful and merciful love of God, through the recounting of the outstanding deeds of the history of salvation. It reveals to us that God is always ready to share the burden of his people, and even to die, to bring life and freedom. Thus, Easter ushers into a joyful season of hope and celebration.
It is not always easy to believe in the resurrection. The women who came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus were taken aback at the empty tomb. According to Jewish customs, people would come to visit the tomb of a loved one at least for three days after the burial. But since it was the Sabbath after Jesus was buried, they had to wait for a couple of days so as not to break the law. On the first day of the week, however, they came to visit the tomb. The sight of the empty tomb, the presence of the linen covering the body, the “two men in brilliant clothes” with their strange message, left them confused and wonderstruck. They went to tell the disciples what they had witnessed. At first, the disciples brushed aside their story as an idle tale. It took time and various encounters with the risen Lord for them to come to believe. Even Peter, who was swift to run to the tomb, did not understand and went back home wondering at what he had witnessed. Therefore, the first witnesses to the resurrection experienced a gradual growth in their faith, finally coming to accept the truth of the resurrection.
As Christians, our belief in the resurrection ought to make an impact on our lives. It ought to change our outlook towards the world in which we live. It ought to bring a gradual growth in faith, hope and love. The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus is not just a historical commemoration, but a reaffirmation of the fact that the risen Christ is around us in our brothers and sisters and comes to meet us through the sacraments. If we seek him with faith and love, we will encounter him. Though we witness misery, pain, suffering and selfishness in various forms around us, we are served with a timely reminder that God is very close to us and nothing else matters. The Easter experience tells us that everything is going to be okay.
Easter reminds us of the redemptive value of suffering. It reveals to us that not all kinds of suffering are bad or evil. Just like suffering and death for Christ became instruments of proclaiming God’s unconditional love for his children, and a way to redeem humanity from slavery to sin; they can be a means for us to experience God’s love and his closeness to us. May the risen Lord lead us to encounter him as we sing: “Alleluia, He is Risen!”
Response: Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.
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