April 23, 2011
Easter Vigil, The Resurrection of the Lord
Liturgical note: There is no liturgy for Holy Saturday. Christian tradition has the Church waiting at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. Today’s meditation is taken from the Gospel reading for Easter Sunday at the Easter Vigil.
After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ´He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.´ This is my message for you." So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
Introductory Prayer: Jesus, you are my faithful friend in life and in death. May I discover in your rising my guarantee and hope of everlasting life. After such a show of love you deserve all my faith, all my hope and all my love. I offer these to you humbly and gratefully. You alone are the Lord of my life. You are the true purpose of my life. I long to see your loving face, Lord, but I must wait in hope to see you in eternity.
Petition: Lord, renew me by your Resurrection.
1. The Dawn of the New Creation Mary Magdalene and the other Mary head to the tomb on the “first day” of the week, as day is dawning. But today holds a new beginning. On the original “first day” God had said, “Let there be light.” Now a new light is dawning. Easter is the dawn of a New Creation. Nature is restored and elevated by the grace of Christ’s Resurrection. There is an earthquake – not because nature convulses as it did on Good Friday – but because an angel has descended from heaven. No lightning strikes from the sky, yet the angel’s appearance is like lightning. His clothing is white as snow, yet no blizzard buries the disciples in desperation. Redemption from sin is won: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Let my soul bathe in this Easter light; may I become dazzling white such as no fuller on earth can bleach me.
2. Unafraid The cause for fear has vanished: “I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.” The worst had been expected after the devastation of Good Friday; instead, Easter unimaginably fulfills the greatest hope. The place where Christ had lain is now empty. Rather, the soldiers who had guarded the tomb are the ones who lie like dead men on the ground. O Death, where is your sting? Death has proven defenseless against the Resurrection. Fearless joy bids me to run tell the disciples.
3. Greetings! Jesus does not delay long in encountering the souls he has redeemed. He stops the two women who are running along their way: “Greetings!” Only he has the words of everlasting life. He is the Resurrection. He is to be worshipped as the Source of Life itself. His light dispels every last shadow of fear. He confirms his disciples in the faith. This is the Good News: All of his brothers will witness the Risen Lord. And we shall be his witnesses to the ends of the earth!
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I desire to encounter you by Easter light. Wash my soul white as snow. Dispel all darkness from my heart. Flood me with your joy. Allow me to be your witness to the ends of the earth.
Resolution: After the Easter Vigil and before Easter Sunday is over, I will greet someone by saying joyfully, “The Lord is Risen!
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