Easter Vigil

“I just wish I knew how the story ended”. These words were said to me by a man who was going through a difficult time in his life. So much seemed to be going wrong for him. The uncertainty about how things would work out in the future caused him a great deal of anxiety and fear. “I wish I knew how the story ended”. Although we have perhaps not said exactly these words, the sentiment is probably something we have all felt and expressed. People with health problems wonder how things will turn out. Students struggling to get into their school of choice worry about whether they will be accepted or not. Those in relationships that are strained worry that things may never improve. Individuals looking for work wonder if their search will ever be successful. “I wish I knew how the story ended”. How would our life change if we knew the end of our story?

Throughout the various readings of the Easter Vigil, we get the chance to hear the incredible story of God’s interaction with humanity throughout the ages and we discover anew that ultimately God, love and life wins in the end. When I was younger, I really got into reading long stories that were split up over a series of books: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Narnia series and the Harry Potter series. I was amazed at how the plot of these books progressed with its various ups and downs and ultimate climax. I admired the creativity of the authors who could fashion these incredible stories with such creativity and planning. One reason why I find the Bible so interesting and beautiful is because of the incredible story that we find there. Although the Bible is incredibly diverse, composed over thousands of years, in various languages and genres and expressing a variety of viewpoints, there is a unity in the Bible as it tells the drama of the relationship between God and humanity. The plot of this story is full of ups and downs. During the readings of the Easter Vigil we heard some highlights of the story. After creating this good world, God made humanity in his image to be in a relationship with him and steward creation. Although God is always faithful to this relationship, humanity sometimes turns their back on God. Time and again, however, God brings humanity back to himself and liberates them from their enemies, as in the Exodus from Egypt. Through the prophets, God promised an ultimate liberation and victory from all that oppressed his people. To accomplish this, he sent his beloved son, who revealed the depths of God’s love and died to save us. As we heard in the Gospel, hate and death did not have the last word. As the men announced to the surprised woman in the Gospel, he has risen! With the apostles who came to the empty tomb, we should stand in amazement at the ending of the story that plays out between God and his people over the centuries: God, love and life wins!Resurrection, RaphaelWhen we were baptized in water, we enter into the incredible story of salvation. At baptism, the story of God’s interaction with humanity becomes our story. The victorious ending of that story becomes the victorious ending of our story. At the Easter Vigil, we renew our baptismal promises and are sprinkled with the newly-blessed water. It is fitting that we enter into the story of salvation through water. Water, that basic element of life, flows through the story of salvation that we heard in the readings like an unbroken stream. Over and over, God creates, saves and renews humanity through water. In the creation account in Gen 1-2, the world starts as water. God makes dryland for his creation by separating the waters. At the climax of the Exodus event (Ex 14-15), God saved the people of Israel from the pursuing Egyptian army by allowing Israel to pass through the waters of the sea and having the waters cover their enemies. Through the prophet Isaiah (Isa 55), God invites everyone who thirsts to “come to the waters”. Here, God promises a future full of life and hope to his people who have been exiled in Babylon. To the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek 36), God declares that he will “sprinkle clean water” upon his people, cleansing them from their sins and renewing his relationship with them. The theme of water runs all the way to Paul’s letter to the Romans, where he tells us how, through the waters of baptism, we are united not only with Jesus’ death, but also with his resurrection. Through the waters of baptism, we are linked forever to Jesus and his victory. Therefore, the end of our own story will also be victorious as it concludes with our own resurrection.

Praise the Lord

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