Saturday, April 11, 2020

Meditation for Today's Mass

The darkness of Holy Saturday is the kind of creative darkness in which God made the world (Genesis 1:1-2:4a). In keeping with this theme the Vigil recollects God’s creation of the universe alongside other moments of deliverance from chaos, including the flood (Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13), the redemption of Isaac from Abraham who was set to sacrifice him at Moriah (Genesis 22:1-18), and the Passover (Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21; 15:1b-13, 17-18, or Exodus 15:1-6, 11-13, 17-18).
The celebration of this night begins outside where we are plunged in the darkness and the cold of the night. We feel that there is an oppressive silence that has befallen the world. Yes the King of the world is sleeping in the belly of the world. We are gathered this night because we know that the King is about to rise and break the silence of this night and to dispel that fear that has shrouded the world. We can feel it. We can identify with the mood of the night. It was the same silence that penetrated the depths of the hearts of His disciples. It is a holy silence. Now behold the Holy Mother the Church breaks the silence of this night with an unanimous chorus of the Easter proclamation, the exultet that announces to us and to the world, “Christ our Pascal Lamb is risen. Alleluia!”

Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13
Noah and the Ark
The story of the Flood presents an example—similar to that of creation. It captures the action of God who delivered the world from the chaos of water. Through the obedience of Noah, he became the first man pleasing to God after the fall of Adam. For this God not only saved him and his household from the raging flood, but He equally sealed a covenant with him. This covenant-relationship between God and His creature was on a personal level even though it denotes a progressive salvific sign of God for the nation that will be born after Noah.
This same covenant-relationship was depicted in God’s encounter with Abraham in the Second Reading today (Genesis 22:1-18).
At mount Moriah, Abraham accepted a difficult task of sacrificing the only legitimate son of his old age, Isaac. It was this willingness to offer his beloved son as a sacrifice to God that certified Abraham as a model of unwavering devotion to God.
Isaac was already bound, and while Abraham lifted up his hand to slaughter him, God decided to exchange Isaac with a ram of sacrifice. This covenant-sacrifice is depicted in the whole Pascal mystery. Jesus is a perfect prefiguration of the ram of sacrifice.Yes, through the mediation of the ram that was sacrificed, God delivered Isaac from death, and in the same way the world is redeemed through the death of Jesus, an offering of God’s own son for the purpose of the salvation of humankind. He equally sealed a New and Everlasting covenant which perfected the covenant with the patriarchs. It is a covenant sealed for the life of the world.

Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21
Israel Is Saved at the Sea
This is the most important moment in the whole of the readings from the Old Testament. This reading can never be omitted for any reason, because it captures the ontological meaning of the salvation won by Christ.
Through Exodus 14-15, we reflect on the power of God’s deliverance in moments of the greatest darkness and need. The redemption of the people of Israel through God’s splitting of the sea following their Exodus from Egypt is paradigmatic of God’s power to save.
It came between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. Thus the cloud and the darkness were there, and it lit up the night. Neither camp approached the other all night. Then Moses extended his hand over the water, and the Lord moved the sea with a strong east wind all that night, which turned the sea into dry land, splitting the sea. And the people of Israel entered into the sea on the dry land, as the water formed walls on their right and left. They crossed to the other side of the land walking through the dry ground formed in the sea. From there they watched the chariots of Pharaoh and his armies plunged into the sea that overcame them.
In this night of resurrection, Jesus the New Moses leads his people away from the “Egypt of slavery” and from the “suffering camp of Pharaoh.” The cross is his weapon of victory over any “Red Sea obstacle” as He leads His people on this glorious journey of liberation. The water and blood that flowed from His side as He was pierced on the cross became a “Sea of Salvation” for His people and a “Sea of destruction” for the enemy. His blood of sacrifice is a perpetual pledge of our redemption and a threat for the enemy.

The synoptic evangelists announced a certain darkness that covered all the land (Mt. 27:45; Mk. 15:33; Lk. 23:44), and no one knew how long it lasted. But that was simply an indication of a chaos-a reference to disorder. The sudden darkness eventually preceeded the death of ‘The One’ who hung on the cross. From the cross, He was lowered in the tomb rolled over with a heavy stone. It was a place of decay. No one expects anything good from the grave order than corruption. This is the height of chaos. There was darkness everywhere just like in the first moment of creation. The first reading from the book of Genesis is a testimony of the opaque and chaotic nature of the earth: “…the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep…and God said, let there be light, and there was light. Thus light became the first gift of God to the world; a victory over darkness. And with this light in place, every other thing was born. Unfortunately creation did not enjoy this light for long. O sin of Adam that dimmed the light and brought back darkness and chaos back to creation! O terrible sin that disfigured the image of God in man! For ages, God sought to recreate and to give back life to creation. His chain of revelations to the patriarchs, the judges and the prophets were successive attempts to bring creation back to normalcy, yet it was not a totally realized project. But in our days, He send His only begotten Son. O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam which has gained for us a great redeemer. Today, in this night; a holy night, the darkness that has reigned for ages immemorial has seen a great light rising from the grave. The power of this holy night dispels all evil, wishes guilt away, and brings mourners joy. It is the only night chosen by God to see His Christ rising from the grave. Yes it is a truly blessed night, when heaven and earth has reconciled their long time enmity, and God has chosen to restore His image back in man. This is the long awaited night of rebirth, the night of re-creation. The Lamb once slain and laid in the tomb of waste has risen in glory. The incorruptible has conquered the corruptible, for death could not hold him on captive. Alleluia great light is rising from the grave. The dark night of sin has been dispelled alleluia.
It all happened in silence. And just like in the first moment of creation, nobody witnessed it except the One who has the power to create. He chose to rise in the silence of the night to show his victory over darkness and to reconnect us to the event of the first creation. But in this case, He did not just create, He equally redeemed.

Amidst the silence of this night, the overpowering silence, the stones began to cry out (cf. Lk 19:40) and to clear the way for the greatest message that history ever heard: “He is not here, for he has arisen” (Mt 28:6).  The stone before the tomb cried out and proclaimed the opening of a new way for all. Creation itself was the first to echo the triumph of life over all that had attempted to silence and stifle the joy of the Gospel.  The stone before the tomb was the first to leap up and in its own way intone a song of praise and wonder, of joy and hope, in which all of us are invited to join. It was the first to share the good news of the glorious resurrection. The linen cloth meant to wrap his body until it gets decomposed was loosened and folded and kept in place. He did not need it anymore. It was a linen of corruption and death. He is now clothed in glory. The women witnessed this. They could not hold the joyful awe. They speedily ran to spread the joy announced to them by the Angel…’He is alive! He is not here!… He has raisen!  And he awaits you in Gaiilee!

This is the reason for this night. Christ is risen today. We have every reason to rejoice. This message is coming at a time in history when we are living in the darkness of chaos and maladies. It has been a horrible moment that succeeded in bringing a lot of tears to many homes: thousands have been ravaged, and thousands too are still battling with it, and the rest including you and me are living in fear of uncertainties. Who will be the next?
The message of this night is that though darkness has enjoyed for long time but Our Light has arisen. Can He who conquered death not conquer diseases? Can He who rolled off the heavy stone not ‘roll off’ the thick tears in our eyes?
Alleluia is a song of victory. Let us not hesitate to sing it. It will burst the tomb of our problems and restore our hope. Let our world rise again in its glory! Let our families rise again in splendour! Let everything in us rise, for Christ our Pascal Lamb has truly risen. Amen.

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