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Homily (Reflection) for Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil) (C) (26th March, 2016) on the Gospel and the celebration

R. 1: Gen 1:1-2:2 or 1:26-31;
Ps 103:1-2.5-6.10.12-14.24.35 (R. cf. v.30) or Ps 32:4-7.12-13.20.22. (R. v. 5).
R. 2: Gen 22:1-18 or 1-2. 9-13. 15-18;
Ps 15:5.8-11 (R. v. 1).
R. 3: Ex 14:15-15:1;
Ex 15: 1-6. 17-18 (R. v. 1).
R. 4: Is 54:5-14;
Ps 29:2.4-6.11-13 (R. v. 2).
R. 5: Is 55:1-11;
Is 12:2-6. (R. v. 3).
R. 6: Bar 3:9-15. 32-4:4;
Ps 18:8-11. (R. Jn 6:69).
R. 7: Ezek 36:16-28;
Pss 41:3.5; 42:3.4 (R. 41:2).
Epistle: Rom 6:3-11;
Ps 117:1-2.16-17.22-23.
Gospel: Lk 24:1-12.

Readings from the Old Testament can be reduced according to circumstances. Minimum of three (3) is recommended. But in special cases, the readings can still be reduced to two. However, the third reading (Ex 14:15-15:1) is compulsory.

We join the Church who awaits at the Lord’s tomb meditating on Christ’s suffering and death. Easter celebration begins with a tone of joy. The priest/s and other ministers wear white vestments. Everyone who takes part in this vigil comes with a candle. The Easter Vigil is made up of four parts, namely: brief service of light, liturgy of the word, Baptism and/renewal of Baptismal vows, and liturgy of the Holy Eucharist.

Before the commencement of the vigil, every light in the church is put off and a large fire is prepared at a suitable place outside the church where the first part of the celebration, service of light, begins. The absence of light in the church signifies that the Lord (the light of the world) is still lying in the tomb, cf. Jn 8:12; 9:5.

Topic: Remember His words.

Women in today’s gospel went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with the spices they had prepared.  They found the tomb open and the body of Jesus missing. While they were perplexed about the ‘disappearance’ of the body of Jesus, two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them and said to them,

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again (Lk 24:5-7).

The story of these women seemed to the apostles and all present an idle tale, and as a result did not believe them. However, “Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.”

Jesus’ arrest, unjust trial, condemnation, and most shameful death seemed to have wiped out of the women’s mind all that Jesus had told them about His death. It was the angels they saw at the tomb that reminded them His words.

As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we might have a lot of wonderful things on our heads about Him: the first fruit from the dead, (cf. Acts 26:23), the resurrection and the life (cf. Jn 11:25), Jesus with all authority in heaven and on earth, (cf. Matt 28:18), to whom nothing is impossible, (cf. Lk 1:37; 18:27), who is with us always, to the close of the age, (cf. Matt 28:20), and so on. Yet sometimes we find ourselves in states worse than that of the women; after all they searched for Him where He was buried. Today we see Christians even the spiritual heads engage themselves in double dealings. Righteousness has no partnership with iniquity, neither does light has fellowship with darkness, cf. 2Cor 6:14.

If we know the power of His resurrection, we ought to remain with God no matter the state we find ourselves as rightly advised by Saint Paul, cf. 1Co 7:24. With the risen Christ on our side, “we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes” (Ps 60:12; 108:13). God is the shield that saves the upright in heart, cf. Ps 7:10. And with God is the best of everything in superabundance, cf. Job 12:13; 2Cor 9:8.

Easter comes only after Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. One must remember always as he/she goes through Holy Thursdays, Good Fridays, and Holy Saturdays of his/her life that Easter is around the corner. Saint Paul rightly writes,

If we have died with him, then we shall live with him. If we persevere, then we shall reign with him. If we disown him, then he will disown us, If we are faithless, he is faithful still, for he cannot disown his own self (2Tim 2:11-13, NJB).

Let no one therefore make him/herself an enemy of the cross of Christ, cf. Phil 3:18. We are certain that God who raised Jesus will surely raise us up, cf. 1Cor 6:14. Befriending anything other than God makes one His enemy, (cf. Jas 4:4) thereby looking for the living among the dead. In every situation, we must remember that Jesus has conquered and is able and willing to save us from every situation, cf. Lk 18:6-8. Let us therefore remember Jesus and His words always.

Bible Reading: Hag 2:1-9; Jer 46:27-28; Matt 28:16-20; 1Cor 15: 1-58.

Thought for today: Where one searches determines what he/she will find.

Let us pray: Lord, help us search for you always where and when you may be found (cf. Is 55:6) – Amen.

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