Easter Vigil

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2015/04/02 at 12:00 AM

Of all the Masses that the Catholic Church celebrates in the course of a year, none is more important than the Mass we are celebrating at this moment.
Indeed, “by most ancient tradition, this is the night of keeping vigil for the Lord, in which, following the Gospel admonition, [we], carrying lighted lamps in our hands, should be like those looking for the Lord when He returns, so that at His coming He may find [us] awake” (Roman Missal).
“Tonight Holy Church meditates on the wonders the Lord God has done for His people from the beginning, trusting in His word and promise until, as day approaches, with new members reborn in Baptism, the Church is called to the table the Lord has prepared for His people” (Roman Missal).
Because this is the most solemn of all Masses, it has many additional elements we don’t typically see on Sundays. But all that we do speaks of the incredible mystery of our salvation in Christ Jesus!
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us that God is a consuming fire! (Hebrews 12:29). And so, gathering around a blazing fire, we lit the paschal candle, a symbol of Christ adorned with grains of incense representing His five glorious wounds, and we processed in the darkness, proclaiming Christ as our light and giving thanks for Him!
As the Israelites of old followed the pillar of fire out of the darkness of Egypt and through the waters of the Red Sea to freedom, so too did we, the new Israelites, follow the pillar of fire tonight – symbolizing our walking out of the darkness of sin into the warm embrace of Holy Mother Church.
Once inside the church we listened to the Exultet, the Church’s great song of praise celebrating Christ’s resurrection. And then we listened as the magnificent story of salvation history was recounted to us through the pages of Sacred Scripture.
But the great story of our salvation is not simply something we are simply listening to tonight. No, my brothers and sisters, for those of you entering into the Church this night, you will actually participate in salvation history through the Sacraments!
We see this most clearly in those of you being baptized, wherein we will use water, which is a rich symbol of the grace our Lord gives us the Sacrament of Baptism.
In the great events of Salvation history: Noah and the flood, the crossing of the RedSea by the Israelites, and the crossing of God’s people through the Jordan River into
the Promised Land, we see how our Lord prefigured the Sacrament of Baptism.

The waters of the great flood in Noah’s day were a sign of the waters of Baptism, thatmake an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness. (cf. CCC, #1219)
In the days of Moses, “our Lord freed the children of Abraham from the slavery ofPharaoh, bringing them dry-shod through the waters of the Red Sea, to be an image of
the people set free in Baptism” (CCC, #1221).

“Finally, Baptism is prefigured in the crossing of the Jordan River by which thePeople of God received the gift of the land promised to Abraham’s descendants, an
image of eternal life” (CCC, #1222).

Through this first of sacraments, we die with Christ so that we might rise with Him tonewness of life! By passing through the waters of baptism, just as the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, we enter into a new and eternal covenant with our Lord.
As Pharaoh and his evil forces were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea, so too are all our sins washed away in the waters of Baptism.
Once baptized, our initiation into the Church is continued through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the sacrament that strengthens us in our Christian witness so that we may live our Catholic faith with integrity and courage.
It is our confirmation that enables us to be good soldiers in the army of the Church Militant, willing to fight against evil for our salvation and that of others.
Lastly, as the Israelites were fed by our Lord during their years in the desert with manna, we, too, receive the living bread that comes down from Heaven: the Eucharist, which nourishes and sustains us on our lifelong journey and completes our full incorporation into the Body of Christ and brings us fully into the Promised Land of Holy Mother Church!
Indeed, tonight is no ordinary night. Tonight is the night of our salvation, which comes to us through the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
Through the grace given to us in the Sacraments, may we all die to sin so that we might live in union with Jesus. May we practice our beautiful Catholic faith with integrity and humility.
And by carrying the lighted lamps of faith, hope, and charity in our hands, may we all be found perfectly ready when the Master returns.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

You can go directly to his homilies:

07 April 2012



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