April 7, 2012
Scripture: Lectionary #42 Easter Vigil (B) April 7,2012. 7 readings from Old Testament and two from the New Testament: Genesis 1:1-2:2. Psalm 104: 1-2.5-6 10.12.13-14.24-25. Or Psalm 33:4-5.6-7.12-13.20-22. Gen. 22:1-18.Psalm 16:5-8.9-10.11. Exodus 14:15-15:1. And Exodus 15:1-2.3-4.5-6.17-18. Isaiah 54:5-14. Psalm 30:2.4.5-6.1-12.13. Isaiah 55:1-11. Isaiah 12:2-3.4.5-6. Baruch 3:9-15.32-4:4. Psalm 19:18.104.22.168. Ezekiel 36:16-28. Psalm 42:3.5. Psalm 43:3.4. or Psalm 51:12-13.14-15.18-19. Romans 6:3-11. Psalm 118:1-22.214.171.124-23. Mark 16:1-8.
Why is this night so different from all other nights? This question is asked at the Passover Seder that is celebrated this Friday evening to Saturday evening in the Jewish families. The question can also be asked in our celebration of the Paschal Mysteries of Christ, the Lamb of God. The above readings are one of the reasons this night is so different. This is the longest listings of Scripture texts for any day within the entire liturgical calendar. The seven from the Old Testament with Psalm responses as well as responses from several of the prophets certainly make this night quite different from all other nights. Finally we have the two readings from the New Testament with a Psalm in between them as our Alleluia response and thus we realize the reason it is so different is that it is the celebration of those coming into the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism and the realization that this whole night leads to the central mystery of Christ’s Resurrection just as the Exodus Event led to the total freedom of the Israelites in their celebration of the Passover throughout the centuries before and after Christ. This night therefore does make a difference! The superabundance of Scripture passages show us the history of salvation that continues on in our present celebrations of the Passover and Easter.
This day our reflection takes in the seven readings of the Old Testament and the two of the New Testament but in a rather succinct presentation.
The paragraphs represent the nine readings: Our new beginning in Jesus Christ occurs with the renewal of our Baptismal vows as we witness the newly baptized in their entrance into the Church. We start our reflection on this evening with the first chapter of Genesis, the creation narrative. God sees that everything in creation is good; in fact, very good (Tov M’od).
Abraham, through his total commitment to faith in God’s promises is prepared to give what is dearest to God his only son, Isaac. Christians through their Baptism are to have such faith, hope, and love so as to give everything to God.
We thank God for the gift of the Exodus to the People of God, the Israelites, and we realize that God liberates us from the power of Satan and our oppressors. We enjoy the freedom of the children of God through Jesus’ giving us the Sacraments and through his Resurrection.
God calls us through the prophet Isaiah to participate and cooperate in the ongoing history of salvation through becoming creative agents of God’s redeeming love, compassion, and mercy. God tells us that his words are everlasting and totally beyond the way we speak and think. We pray redeem us, Lord, from our proud thoughts and deeds.
Through Baruch (and Jeremiah) you call us to be your children who have the gift of wisdom that inspires us to be prudent and to have understanding of the ways of God. We do this when we follow your precepts, commandments, and statutes. Yes, Lord, you have the words of life everlasting. Cleanse us, we pray, through the cleansing waters of Baptism. Then we shall know you are the Lord, our God and we praise you for Holy is your Name. Give us a new and renewed heart; place in them a new spirit and we shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth. We are your people and you are our God.
St. Paul gives us the most profound reflection on Baptism in the selection from chapter six of Romans. We are at the center of the Paschal Mystery when we die and rise with Christ the Light of the world when we are baptized and renew our vows of Baptism. We have been one with the Lord in his sufferings, death, burial and resurrection. Easter is rung in with the chiming of the bells and the great praises of the Glory to God. We celebrate the total victory of Jesus over sin,darkness, and death. We rejoice with the newly baptized and in our own renewal of our Baptism.
Our responsorial psalm is preceded by three Alleluias and we now know that the liturgy is in full Easter swing. Our Resurrection Narrative follows the reading from Mark in this year B of the liturgy wherein the Gospel of Mark is read throughout the year. Though Mark seems to center on the empty tomb we realize that the young man clothed in dazzling white is the herald who proclaims that Jesus is risen and has gone before the disciples both men and women to Galilee. They must carry this message to one another and continue the Easter celebration till the end of time. The element of awesome fear that the women display keeps them silent for a while, but the message does get through that Christ is risen. Alleluiah. Amen.
An important statement on the Resurrection comes from Father Raymond E. Brown, S.S.:
It is disturbing to hear from Catholics the facile claim ‘My faith in the resurrection would not be disturbed if Christ’s body were found in Palestine.’ Much more to the point is whether the faith of the eleven would have been shaken by such a discovery.