Saturday, April 3, 2010

This Is The Night

(Easter Vigil, C)

“This is the night.” That’s the refrain and the slogan of our joy at this Vigil. “This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.” This is the night. Notice that we are in the present tense, and in this little bit of grammar, we see the good news for us, for the world, and especially for you, dear Elect and candidates.

When we think of the Resurrection of the Lord, of the fifty days of Easter we are about to celebrate with greater joy than ever, we are not recalling to ourselves some bit of history, some event from the past. The Resurrection, because it is a matter of God's eternity is not yesterday or tomorrow, but always right now. This is the night. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the invasion of eternity Itself, of eternity Himself into our lives and our world of space and time. For Jesus Christ, though he could die in the humanity he borrowed from us through our Most Blessed Mother, could not be held by death in his identity as the eternal Son of God. So, after resting in death through this greatest of Sabbaths, the Risen Lord bursts forth once again, destroying from the inside the bodily corruption and death we have brought into this world with our sins.

In Jesus Christ we have a marriage of heaven and earth, a fertile union of our humanity with God. The power of this union comes to be with us tonight. Through the Resurrection, which is the indestructibility and infinite creativity of God’s own Eternity, we are blessed and re-created. This is because for us Jesus Christ is risen into the faith of the sacraments handed down to us by apostolic Tradition. That is why, in the sacraments we celebrate at this Vigil, this is the night of the Resurrection. Does this surprise us to say that Jesus Christ is risen into the sacraments? If we were to offer Mass tomorrow night we would hear the beautiful passage from St. Luke in which the risen Jesus offers the Eucharist for his disciples: “He was made known to them in the breaking of bread.” By our Communion with Jesus Christ, his Risen and Eternal Life comes to make a home in our humble humanity.

This is the night. In these sacraments of initiation, we are witnesses to the Resurrection just as much as the women at the tomb on that first Easter morning. In the gospel we heard of the three women who were the first witnesses to the Empty Tomb: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. Tonight those three women are Veronica, Sujeiry, and Nicole. It is you who draw near to the mystery of the Empty Tomb, and who are about to meet the transforming power of the Resurrection in your baptism. That is why you, Elect of God, are our greatest joy tonight; you are the women who stand in the tradition of the women at the tomb and who will become for us the first newborn witnesses of the Resurrection. This is the night.

In the sacramental initiation you receive tonight, the eternal and indestructible Life and Creativity of God come to make a home in you. It will grow as God’s own Blessed Delight through the rest of your pilgrimage in this world, and bear its greatest fruit in the eternal life of which you are now heirs. You candidates who will complete your initiation with the sacrament of Confirmation share in the same joy, as do we who renew tonight the promises of our own baptism.

Let us rejoice with these women who have traveled to the tomb to be transformed by their witness to the Resurrection. May the eternal life showered upon us in the Resurrection well up in every heart to God the Father’s everlasting delight. This is the night.


Greg said...

I'm printing your homily and carrying it with me in my pocket tonight as I partake of the sacrament of baptism.

One cannot have too many homilies and yours speaks to my heart.

Brother Charles said...

Congratulations, Greg. You're in for quite a journey.

4narnia said...

beautiful homily, Fr. C! HAPPY EASTER! PAX! ~tara t~

Greg said...

Your homily survived full immersion, it made the beautiful trip with me. I appreciate having your thoughts with me as I made the journey.

blogmeister said...

An excellent reflection on the Easter mystery. In person, given the atmosphere created by the readings and impoending sacraments, it was a very inspiring part of an amazing vigil.

Brother Charles said...

Greg: The paper may have survived, but the old Adam did not. Happy neophyte-ing.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

This is so beautiful it brought tears!