Scripture: Lectionary # 42. Standard readings for the Vigil. Matthew
however is different for this year: Mat. 28:1-10
This Easter Vigil helps us to keep watch with the women, Mary Magdalene and
the other Mary, probably the wife of Clopas. We are prepared for their
exciting experience of the resurrection of Jesus that begins with an
earthquake, but before that we are given seven readings from the Old
Testament in order to show us God’s action in salvation history. When we
come to reading from St. Paul we are literally immersed in the waters of
Baptism which fixes within us in an indelible way (our faith) the Passion,
Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. The Resurrection however is our focus as
we read the Gospel this night.
We have selections from all parts of the Hebrew Scriptures called the
Tanach. The TA=the Torah or first five books of the Bible from Genesis to
Deuteronomy; then we enter the great Event that parallels the Resurrection,
namely, the Exodus which gives us the Passover of the Angel of God and the
freedom of our brothers and sisters the Jewish people. This is
complemented by the Resurrection for us as Christians which is our Passover
meaning the Sufferiing ,Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. Next comes the
prophets symbolized by the NA of the word Tanach. It means prophets in
Hebrew, the Nabiim. Finally the Psalms and Writings for the last part of
the acronym, namely, the CH standing for Chutuvim or Writings of the last
part of the Hebrew Bible. This shows us God’s plan for us humans and we
name it salvation history–God working behind the scenes of human history
with its ups and downs.
The Gospel however is our focus this night which differs from all other
nights! It is the most dramatic of the Resurrection narratives and begins
with another earthquake paralleling the one at the time of Jesus’ death in
the way in which Matthew hands on the history of Jesus’ last days. We
experience creation, liberation and freedom, promise, prophecy, Baptism,
and the Good News that Jesus is Risen through the many readings of this
Vigil. The symbols of light, word, water, and then bread and wine are
essential to the liturgy for this Easter Vigil.
We rejoice for the time of our fasting is over and we breathe new life in
Jesus Christ through our own renewal of Baptismal promises and our
receiving the illuminati into their Baptism. Jesus keeps telling us, “Do
not be afraid! Go and carry the news to my brothers and sisters in Galilee.
It is there you will see me!
Matthew introduces us to the Resurrection through Mary Magdalene and
another Mary. We may ask where is Mary the Mother of Jesus? She certainly
would have been there for her son for we have seen her at the foot of the
Cross and at the coming of the Holy Spirit upon her and the apostles in the
upper room in Jerusalem. She who was with him for the first moment of his
life and for his last breath upon earth would have experienced new life in
his Resurrction. One or the other apocryphal works mentions this and so do
spiritual writers. Why not? A mother intuits where to be in the great
moments of her children.
Jesus tells the women not to be afraid and he addresses them with the
Shalom of the Resurrection. That word embraces more than a simple
“hello”–it stands for peace, wholeness, blessings of every sort for the
one who hears it. Mary the mother of Jesus heard it for the first time
from the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation and at the moment salvation
history became a living person in the Word becoming life in the body of the
Virgin Mary. Only faith can lead us to marvel at this marvel of marvels.
Like Mary we chase away our fears brought on by doubts about life after
death by saying our own “Yes” to Jesus’ Resurrection. The gift is there at
our Baptism but we must allow it to develop beyond our rationalizations and
fears. Christ is truly risen. Like the Marys mentioned in the Gospel and
Mary the Mother of Jesus we run to announce the Good News to the others who
are gathered in their own Galilee. Amen. Alleluiah.