HOLY SATURDAY 2013
O truly blessed night, in which earth is wedded to heaven, and humans to God!
There are so many powerful symbols during the Easter Vigil! We gather in darkness. A new fire is kindled, and the Paschal candle is lit. Then the Church moves from darkness to light as we light our individual candles from that one flame. The darkness and isolation are swallowed up in its radiant glow. The new fire and the candles are our recognition that Christ has definitively won the victory over the powers of darkness and evil. The Easter Candle serves on this night and for the rest of the year as a symbol of Christ the true Light of the World.
In the extended Liturgy of the Word we hear a synopsis of the whole story of salvation. We listen attentively to the Word of God; we remember the part played by our ancestors in faith and how God chose to reveal himself to them. Eventually the Divine is revealed definitively in the person of his Son Jesus.
We exult as the Lord of Hosts opens a path for his people through the sea of destruction and despair, and we see the Paschal candle plunged into the font, making its waters the place where the old life of sin and death will be destroyed.
With the blessing of water we celebrate the Liturgy of Baptism which initiates new members into the Church and provides us with the opportunity to renew the promises when we were born anew. We recognize that in Baptism we are born again in Christ, that we are united with him and freed from sin. That it is indeed the first fruits of our own resurrection.I often remind people at a funeral that death of the body is the second baptism. Why? Because in death we can no longer sin! We not only receive the Spirit with us, the Spirit receives us within God and we become like God for as St. John says, “We see him as he is.”
In an Easter homily, St. Basil expresses it this way:
· “Your baptism is the promise of the life of heaven. By your immersion you imitated the burial of the Lord, but when you came out of the water you were conscious only of the reality of the resurrection.
Baptism is the planting of the seed of immortality, a planting which takes place in the font and bears fruit in heaven. Although water serves as the instrument, it is grace which gives rebirth. Grace transforms all who are placed in the font as the seed is transformed in the womb. It refashions all who go down into the water as metal is recast in a furnace. To him be glory and power for ever, through endless ages, amen.”
Yet when we are received into communion with our Catholic family through the power of the Holy Spirit we are not scot-free. Even as the Israelites were free of their slavery from Egypt through the reed sea, their oppressors were not far behind. It was the angel of God who protected them from their enemy and it will be Christ who stands between ourselves and a life of sin. In baptism our teaching tells us that “we are freed from the tyranny of sin in our life!” We are tempted by the Holy Spirit to be faithful to love as Christ was throughout His life. He was like us in all things but sin. We must stay close to the Lord and to his body the Church in order to feel the invitation of the Holy Spirit every day of our lives.
Fire and light, sacrificial Lamb, words of faith, holy water, life-giving Word, fragrant oil— all of our senses are filled with the life of God at the Vigil and the eucharistic banquet is the glorious celebration of Jesus’ decisive victory over sin and death. “Christ is risen indeed!” Alleluia!