Saturday, April 19, 2014

Homily for Today

The angel said, "He has been raised from the dead." [Mt. 28:7] My brothers and sisters in Christ, these words of the angel from the Gospel of Matthew summarize why we are here tonight. The vigil Mass is considered to be the first Easter Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord. Our faith community has gathered here during this evening to participate in the mystery of the Holy Mass with joy and praises in commemoration of the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

During this very special evening, wherever the Easter Vigil is being celebrated throughout the world, the catechumens are being baptized, confirmed and invited to receive the real Presence of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. For them, the Easter Vigil celebration completes nearly a year of journeying in the faith of our Mother Church that was established on earth about two thousand years ago by Jesus Christ Himself.

(Optional: May I take this opportunity to welcome home all those who have chosen to be in communion with our faith community.)

On the night before He died, Jesus prayed for our unity. He said, "And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you, Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one." [Jn. 17:11] Jesus' prayer was that we may be one as He and the Father are one. By the grace of the Heavenly Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the catechumens have been shown the way home so that we may be one as Jesus and His Father are one. Praise God for manifesting His loving grace that is seen in the building of the Mystical Body of Christ.

In view of the fact that we heard an unusual large number of Bible readings tonight, I will briefly summarize their meaning. The First Reading from the Book of Genesis [Gen. 1:1-2:2] indicated that everything that God had made, it was very good. [Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31] Seven times, we heard, "And God saw that it was good." If God saw that it was good seven times, surely, His creations must be very good, all of it serving a purpose in His Divine progressive plan.

The Second Reading [Gen. 22:1-18] reminded us of the event when Abraham obeyed God's command to go and sacrifice his only son Isaac whom he loved. This was a real test of faith for Abraham. Because he obeyed the Lord, at the last minute, the life of his son was spared. In recompense, the Lord promised to Abraham that He would make his offsprings as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore [Gen. 22:17] and by his offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessings for themselves. [Gen. 22:18]

In the Letter of Paul to the Romans, we are told that "Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness." [Rom. 4:3, 9] The same righteousness that Abraham received, it is bestowed upon all those, that meaning all of us, "who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, 'I have made you the father of many nations')." [Rom. 4:16-7]

The Third Reading from the Book of Exodus [Exo. 14:15-31, 15:20-1] reminded us of the event when the Lord God freed the children of Israel from the Egyptian slavery. This event was a picture of what was to come, that through our faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, [Jn. 3:5] we would be freed from the slavery of sin. [Rom. 6:7]

The Fourth Reading from the Book of Isaiah [Is. 54:5-14] recounted the promise of the Lord God to have compassion for us, that He would be our Redeemer.

The Fifth Reading, also from the Book of Isaiah, [Is. 55:1-11] was an invitation to abundant life. It was a promise from the Lord that if we came to Him, we would live and He would make an everlasting covenant with us.

The Sixth Reading, from the Book of Baruch, [Bar. 3:9-15, 32-4:4] reminds us to walk in the way of God so we may live in peace forever. We were told that wisdom is the Commandments of God, the law that endures forever. All who live righteously by obeying the commands of God will live. Those who forsake the commandments, they will experience spiritual death. To experience spiritual death means to be eternally separated from the Presence of God.

The Seventh Reading from the Book of Ezekiel [Ezek. 36:16:17a, 18-28] contained God's promise to sprinkle clean water upon us. He promised to put within us a new heart and a new spirit. Over and above this, He promised to place within us His indwelling Spirit to help us obey His commandments.

The Eight Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans [Rom. 6:3-11] reminds us that through the Sacrament of Baptism, we died with Christ, we were buried with Him, and we have been raised with Him so that we may walk in the newness of life.

The final reading from the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 28:1-10] recounts the event surrounding the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. When Ma4ry Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb early on the Sunday morning, they were greeted by an angel who told them that Jesus had been raised. Accordingly, the women should go and announce the good news to the disciples, telling them to go to Galilee where they will see Jesus again.

My friends in Jesus, the death of the Lord is not just a fairytale. It was witnessed by more than five hundred brothers and sisters of the early Church. [1 Cor. 15:6] One Christian may have imagined it. Two Christians may have imagined it. But surely, all five hundreds could not have imagined it!

Tonight, we commemorate the glorious Resurrection of Jesus, His Resurrection being a symbol of our faith. As the body of Jesus was raised from the dead, our bodies will also be raised. As we continue to participate in the great Feast of the Holy Eucharist, let us rejoice and praise God in thankfulness for all that He has done for us. May His Most Holy Name be praised forever!

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