This Easter Vigil we celebrate the most important thing we believe as Christian people. Jesus Christ is risen today!
All Gospels have an account of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, and all four Gospels mention: 1) The tomb of Jesus was found empty and 2) The risen Christ appeared to certain persons. Matthew tells us that, as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary approached the tomb, there was a great earthquake, and “an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat on it.” The guards stationed at the tomb were terrified and “became like dead men.” The angel then assured the women that Jesus “has been raised from the dead as he said he would” The women, “filled with awe and great joy,” left the tomb as the angel instructed to tell the disciples. On their way, Jesus met and greeted the women who “falling before him, clasped his feet.” Jesus himself then sends the women to “tell my brothers they must leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
The mention of a great earthquake is peculiar to Matthew’s account of the Resurrection, it indicates the coming of a new and final age brought about through the life, teaching, ministry, and particularly through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Notable also is the fact that Jesus’ first appearance is to women, the women who came to minister to him. Finally, not to be overlooked, is Jesus’ use of the word “brothers” to refer to his disciples. It seems to be indicative of a new and different relationship that Jesus has with them. The disciples are now entrusted with the message and mission of the risen Jesus Christ.
It took the people of Jesus day some time to realize what “to rise from the dead” meant. On the first Easter, they didn’t receive baskets of eggs and jelly beans, or eat chocolate rabbits. It was a day when at first their hopes were dashed. We can only imagine their confusion when Jesus body was missing. They may have imagined that it had been stolen. That would have been even another insult and indignity. Just when their hearts had sunk to the lowest point, they were faced with another possibility. Could he have risen?
The joy of this day is a sure sign that this is exactly what happened. The faith that was enkindled in the hearts of so many has survived, been passed on and has grown over 2,000 years. This weekend thousands of people will be Baptized, Confirmed and welcomed into Full Communion with the Church all over the world. So, it’s a celebration for all of us! It was impossible to crush the message Jesus came to live. It was impossible for sin and darkness to win out over goodness and light. It was impossible for death to conquer life. The message of Easter is a message of God’s triumph over all those things.
So, we light our candles and we renew our Baptismal Promises. We welcome new members and are strengthened by their faith. And we glory in all that has happened. It takes a lifetime for us to realize what happened that day more than 2,000 years ago. The resurrection of Jesus colours every facet of our lives, but, we need to live it. We need to pass it on to more people every day of our lives.
Light has overcome darkness and life has won out over death. Jesus is risen from the dead! So, we take the message to the streets. We live as people filled with hope. We share that hope with those around us. We work against selfishness, evil, sin, darkness and death knowing that the power of the resurrection is infinitely stronger. That power grows stronger still as we share it and strengthen the faith of others. It was impossible to extinguish the message. Jesus lives. Jesus lives in us. Christ has died. Christ is risen! Christ will come again! ALLELUIA!”