Homily for the Easter Vigil

Holy Saturday: Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord

April 11, 2020
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
Fort Worth, Texas

Genesis 1:1-2:2
Psalm 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35
Genesis 22:1-18
Exodus 14:15-15:1
Exodus 15:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 17-18
Isaiah 54:5-14
Psalm 30: 2, 4, 5-6. 11-12, 13
Isaiah 55:1-11
Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6
Baruch 3:9-15, 32—4:4
Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11
Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28
Psalm 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
Romans 6:3-11
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Matthew 28:1-10

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’” Jesus speaks these words to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, friends and followers of His who had experienced the pain and trauma of the last several days of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion. These two women had also experienced the encounter with the angel who has just announced to them that Jesus has risen from the dead, before telling them to go to Galilee where they will see Him. Jesus receives their homage and embrace and then immediately tells them not to be afraid and to go tell His brothers to go to Galilee where they will see Him.

This seems to indicate that the Gospel of Christ crucified and risen from the dead calls for a response for us to march quickly and confidently into the future without fear for we have been given a mission and purpose. Everything that the world and that the devil told us were absolute are now relativized because Christ has risen from the dead: wealth and poverty, sickness and health, power and weakness, the inevitability of sin, and the finality of death. Everything is different. Christ reigns, not COVID 19. This requires of us to live our lives with this as true — not to be afraid and to live with purpose and love.

While we are sent by Christ with confidence into the future, we do so mindful of the past that also is changed and redeemed by Christ, who is the Lord of all time. The past, including our sinfulness and suffering, matters not in an absolute sense but matters in that Christ has redeemed the past and has transformed what was evil into good. Christ has put the lie to the liar.

During these days, the world of the flesh tells us to be fearful of the future. The world of the flesh tells us that things are not going to be the same, that they are going to be worse. The world of the flesh tells us to remain in the tomb isolated and in the dark. Christ opens the tomb and sends us into the future as children of the Resurrection who know of His love and mercy and are to face fear of sickness, persecution, and even death with a confidence that Christ is truly risen from the dead.

Hope is not wishful thinking. Sin is not inescapable. Death is not decisive. The Resurrection of Christ is not meant simply to amaze, or even to inspire, though it is amazing, and it should inspire. Like the pillar of fire guiding the people of Israel out of the darkness of Egypt and into the promised land, so too, in our time and place — a time of anxiety and a place of deprivation — we have our own pillar of fire who is the Risen Christ. He is the pillar of fire for whom darkness is not dark; He is light from light, true God from true God; He is the Son of Mary and the Son of God. He tells us to follow Him, to imitate Him, to unite with Him — so that we can share in His saving mission and final victory. He tells us to go and do the same as He has done, and He gives us the grace by which we can do it.

There is work to be done, there is the Gospel to proclaim, there is eternal life to be lived beginning now, there is a divine kingdom to be secured. Like the Risen Christ, let’s put aside all that held us in the darkness of sin and death, and go forward, confident that Christ is with us, as we tell the world by our lives that He has risen, as He promised!