April 19, 2014 – Year A
Readings: Gn 1:1-2:2, Psalm 104, Gn 22:1-18, Psalm 16, Ex 14:15-15:1, Ex 15:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 17-18, Is 54:5-14, Psalm 30, Is 55:1-11, Is 12:2-3, 4, 5-6, Bar 3:9-15, 32-4:4, Psalm 19, Ez 36:16-17A, 18-28, Psalm 51, Rom 6:3-11, Psalm 118, Mt 28:1-10
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
The Easter Vigil is my favorite liturgy of the whole year. There are many that I love. The Chrism Mass, which was celebrated on Monday night at the Cathedral in Richmond, is incredible and if you have never been, you should plan on attending next year. But it is ranks behind the Vigil in my book. Even an ordination Mass, my own included, doesn’t match the Vigil for me.
Tonight is actually part of a big liturgy that began two days ago. Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil together make up the Easter Triduum. If you attended all three, you may have noticed some peculiarities. On Thursday at the end of Mass, there was no closing hymn. The ciborium containing the Eucharist was carried from the church as the choir sang Pange Lingua. Last night there was no processional. Father and I entered in silence, prostrated ourselves in front of the altar, and the liturgy continued. At the end, we left the church in silence. Finally, tonight there was once again no processional as there normally is at Mass. We entered, led by the Easter Candle, which symbolizes the light of the risen Christ.
The Paschal Mystery, the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, is too big to be commemorated in one service. It is the cornerstone of our Christian faith. Christmas may get the most attention in our society but Easter is what defines us. It’s what makes us Christian. By my calculations, including the Chrism Mass, Holy Name of Mary will spend about 21 hours this week in worship. But this is not enough.
In our New Testament reading tonight, St. Paul tells us that:
“we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”
We know that we will be raised from death like Jesus but we sometimes forget that the new life that we received through baptism starts here and now.
I received an email forward the other day that illustrates this:
A group of businessmen were rushing through a busy airport trying to catch their flight home. In their rush to catch the plane, one of them inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane seconds before the door was closed.
ALL BUT ONE!!! This man’s conscience kicked in and he started to feel a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.
He told his buddies to go on without him and asked them to call his wife and explain why he was taking a later flight. He then returned to the terminal where the apples were scattered all over the floor.
He was glad he did. The young girl was totally blind and she was softly crying as she helplessly groped for her spilled produce. The crowd of people swirled about her; no one stopping to offer her a hand.
The salesman helped her gather up the apples and put them back on the table. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.
When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, “Here, please let me pay for the damage. Are you okay? I hope we didn’t spoil your day too badly.”
He paid her, but as the he started to walk away, the girl called out to him, “Mister, are you Jesus?”
Taken aback, he replied, “No, I am nothing like Jesus – He is good, kind, caring, loving, and would never have knock over your display in the first place.”
The girl replied: “I only asked because I prayed for Jesus to help me gather the apples. He sent you to help me. Thank you for hearing Jesus, Mister.”
Then slowly the man made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning in his mind: “Are you Jesus?”
The Son of God humbled himself to share in our humanity so that He could proclaim the Kingdom of God. Through our Baptism we are promised a share of this Kingdom, but we don’t have to wait for our own death. It starts right here on earth. We are a Resurrection people and or Lord calls us to announce this to the world.
In the Gospel today, Jesus assigns Mary a task. He tells her to “Go tell…” This is our assignment too.
My prayer for each one of us here tonight and for Christians throughout the world is this:
Most loving Heavenly Father, may the light of your risen Son shine out from each one of us and may we proclaim the joy of His Gospel by our lives. Amen.