March 22, 2008
Easter Vigil, Cycle A

First Reading: Genesis 1:1- 2:2 (The Creation Story)
Second Reading: Genesis 22: 1-18 (Abraham's Sacrifice)
Third Reading: Exodus 14: 15-31; 15-20 (Crossing the Red Sea)
Fifth Reading: Isaiah 55: 1-11 (Come to the waters, Seek the Lord, His Word accomplishes His purpose)
Epistle: Romans 6:3-11 (Baptised into Christ's death; Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus)
Gospel:
Matthew 28: 1-10 (The women visit the tomb on the Sabbath, the stone rolls away, an angel speaks, Jesus meets them)

Rolling Back the "Stone" in my Life

We began tonight’s liturgy at the Church entrance with the celebration of “The Service of Light.” In this celebration, we rise with Jesus from the darkness of death to newness in life that began since Jesus’ pre-existence with the Father.

Holy Mother Church sees Easter Vigil Mass as the first Mass of the Resurrection narratives. It is the "heart" of the Liturgical Years of the Church, filled with glories and God’s grace – “bright as the day" [cf. Ps 139:12] upon every heart that allows God to dwell therein. Jesus’ resurrection therefore, inaugurates and ushers us into a new life, a “new heaven” and a “new earth” [cf. 2 Pet 3:13. Is. 65:17; 66:22; Rev 21:1].

This night is the “most blessed of all nights” as you heard me sing in the Exultet – the Easter Proclamation. The resurrection indicates that there is life beyond the grave; that there is more to each one of us – to our identity than meets the eye; that though our human body will die and return to “dust” and “ashes,” our souls will live forever with God.

Our duty is to roll back the stones that inhibit and prohibit us from maturing in the Lord. St. Paul alludes in his pastoral letters that in as long as we can not go into the grave or heaven with our house, car, bank account, or any other earthly riches or fame, we do not have to make such a big fuss about earthly riches. The danger may be that we get hung up on doing everything to be rich, and popular and famous. The real problem is that others count us as worthless; when we feel nobody recognizes our efforts.

For this reason, St. Paul reminds us to concentrate and to contemplate the face of Jesus in the resurrection; that the essential ingredient to heaven is prayer and intimacy with God through love of our neighbours. In fact, St. Paul insists that “… our real homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the Saviour we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure our wretched bodies into his glorious body” [cf. Phil 3:20]. Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is a perfect example of that total change that can occur in our lives when we truly encounter Jesus. Thus, Paul’s behaviour after his conversion reveals that when we truly meet Jesus, less godly things and every distinction disappear. We agree that we are EQUAL before him – God, who alone is perfect. The resurrection challenges you and me to focus on being good to one another and to others – far and near.

In essence, the Easter event is that we allow Jesus to take over our hearts; that if we are unhappy with our life situation, now is the hour that we must permit Jesus to roll back the stones that block our view from seeing God, who is our perfect source of happiness. In short, the resurrection event means that we do not allow ourselves to be possessed by possessions or material acquisitions, for when Jesus refused to be mastered by “material emotions,” he has been able to set us free from every burden.

Perhaps you and I must be convinced that when we live well in and with Jesus to confirm God’s glory, we will, at the end of our earthly life, proclaim life’s fulfillment as Jesus said in John 19:30 – “Consumata est.”

As we partake of this Easter celebration my dear brother or sister, I implore you and my unworthy self, that whatever our life situation is right now, we would allow Jesus to role away the stones we carry in order that we may secure perfect rest [Is. 55:1-3] I n God who alone makes our complete.

Happy Easter to you all!!!

Father John-Baptist Okai
Priest Moderator
St. Cecilia Parish, Regina SK Canada

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