The Bishops Homily – Holy Saturday Easter Vigil 2017

Holy Saturday 2017
Easter Vigil
Gen. 1: 1-2:2 | Exod. 14:15-15:1 | Exod. 14:15-15:1
Is. 54: 5-14 | Is. 55: 1-11 | Ez. 36: 16-28
Rom. 6: 3-11
Mt. 28: 1-10

INTRODUCTION: On Easter Vigil, the whole Church watches at night in prayer and hymns, listening to God’s Word explain the meaning of Christ’s Resurrection in symbols that end in the breaking of bread at Mass. Do you recognize these symbols and what they stand for?

* BLESSING OF FIRE: symbolic of the Holy Spirit who moves everything in the world and in the Church according to The Father’s over-all design.
* BLESSING OF THE PASCHAL CANDLE: symbolic of the Risen Christ.
* LIGHTING OF THE PASCHAL CANDLE: symbolic of the Risen Christ as the Light of the World that alone illuminates the world.

(2) PROCESSION OF THE PASCHAL CANDLE TO THE CHURCH: symbolic of the Journey of humankind into his Final End only with the Light of Christ guiding men and world events:
* PROCLAMATION OF CHRIST AS LIGHT: illuminating every one and every place little by little until the whole Church, standing for the world, is illuminated through Evangelization.
* EASTER PROCLAMATION (Exsultet): to the Church of the Risen Christ
* LITURGY OF THE WORD: God speaks to his People and the People listen.
* GLORIA: Sung after the 5th or 7th Reading while Altar of Sacrifice is decorated
* BLESSING OF WATER for Adult Baptism, if there is any.

* HOLY COMMUNION (EASTER DUTY): for all those prepared well by reception of the
Sacrament of Reconciliation during the Lenten Season or within the current year 2016-2017.
* FINAL BLESSING: A Blessed and Happy Easter!

CONCLUSION: What is Easter all about? Easter is all about the man Jesus of Nazareth who was put to death by Pilate and buried by his disciples, but was brought back to life by the power of God. What was then expected to happen at the end of time happened in time with this man Jesus. This never happened before! This novelty became the central message of Christianity that the followers of Jesus testified to, even to the point of death. That is why most of his followers in the first three hundred years died a martyrs’ death. What are then the implications of this novel teaching?

(1) The divine manner of establishing order differs from the way of worldly powers. The customary way is through violence. The Cross was a violent symbol of Roman domination at the time of Jesus. There are others even today: guns, death penalty by lethal injection in place of the old electric chair and gas chamber, etc. . . The way the Risen Jesus treated his disciples in the Gospel of today spells the difference! All of them were in fear. When they saw Jesus for the first time, he showed them his hands and his feet still bearing the marks of violence in his body, what was Jesus’ first remark to them? “Shalom! Peace!” when everyone of them thought Jesus was coming for a vengeance. He exemplified by his gesture that Love, more than brute force, conquers all!

(2) God has not given up on his Creation where he made everything good and every human being very good. Easter represents God’s great “Yes” to humanity. Throughout history, humanity has turned its back on God ( The Fall, The Flood, Tower of Babel, Wanderings in the Desert, Slavery in Egypt, the Golden Calf, Captivity in Babylon, etc. . .) but the Lord has constantly sent rescue operations (Noah’s Ark, Ark of the Covenant, Abraham and the Patriarchs, Moses, David, John The Baptist, Jesus’ Incarnation, etc. . .) to bring us back into communion with him. The Resurrection of Christ is the definitive rescue operation and is our sure hope of glory and salvation!

N.B. The above can already serve as points for the Homily for Easter Sunday!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches