Saturday, April 3, 2010

Alleluia! He is Risen!

Holy Saturday – The Easter Vigil
3 April 2010 – Rosary Monastery, St. Ann’s
Vigil Readings from the Old Testament
Romans 6:3-11
Luke 24:1-12
Part of the prayer which is said as the Easter Candle is prepared for lighting goes as follows:
“By his holy and glorious wounds
may Christ our Lord guard us and keep us.”
            I think it was way back when among the old Fathers of the Desert in Egypt where they reminded the monks and hermits to look attentively at the figure should they think they were seeing a vision of the Risen Christ. They just like St. Thomas the Apostle, who said …unless I can put my finger into the nail marks in his hands and put my hand into His side, I will not believe…, were admonished by their teachers in the spiritual life to look for His holy and glorious wounds before trusting the vision. You and I may not have such concerns, but the lesson from the Desert Fathers is a key one. The mystery of faith, as proclaimed in the words “Lord, by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Savior of the world,” is just so: we can only know Christ in His resurrected Glory if we recognize Him in His suffering and death.
            This is the whole point of the passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans assigned for tonight: “When we were baptized in Christ Jesus we were baptized in his death; in other words, when we were baptized we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.”
            Alleluia! How do you wish somebody “Happy Easter”? What do you say? How do you mean it? Maybe the focus on His holy and glorious wounds provides that sure anchor to keep us from reeling off into space somewhere? For as much as Easter eggs, Easter bunnies and baby chicks dyed pink with your choice of harmless food coloring might be part of the symbolism, what warms or lightens hearts on this great feast is something which goes beyond the best of feelings that can be inspired by thoughts of the kite flying competition scheduled for tomorrow on the Savannah.
Jesus, the Lamb once slain who lives forever, is the only one who counts and can give our Easter Greeting its proper content. “I find God in nature” she says! “Great!” I say, “I have it easier. I look on the face of Christ; I see His hands and His side pierced through for my deliverance; I share His victory!” A pink or a yellow poui, a perfect sunset, and on and on are all His handiwork, but give me Jesus Himself! Give me Jesus first and foremost! Give me the Risen One! Springtime in the temperate zones and the first great rains after a hard dry season in the tropics always work their wonders (green, what a wonderful color!), but I have been baptized into the death of God’s only Son and I rise with Him to Glory. I rise with Him to Glory, not to sprout new leaves, not to bloom and grow, not for a season, but for always, unto everlasting life, happiness and peace.
            So let’s say it with all the meaning and weight intended! Let’s say it with the only sense which counts!
Alleluia! Happy Easter! He is risen as He said and goes before us!
“By his holy and glorious wounds
may Christ our Lord guard us and keep us.”

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