The themes of the Easter Vigil are light, word, water and commitment to the risen life. The Responsorial
Psalm that sums up all the readings is simply: "Alleluia, Alleluia Alleluia" (with Psalm 118).
The Light Service begins in darkness. We kindle and bless the new fire, symbol of the new light of Christ that dispels the darkness of all ages. We inscribe in the Easter candle the Alpha and Omega, first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, to say Christ is "the beginning and the end," and the number of the current year to say, "All time belongs to him, and all ages." Then we light the Easter candle from the new fire, and the candles of all present from the Easter candle, symbol of Christ. We sing the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation), celebrating the victory of Christ over all darkness and division from God. As disciples we draw our light from Christ, and we ourselves are the "light of the world" (Matthew 5:14).
The Liturgy of the Word is light made audible. Seven readings proclaim: 1. creation; 2. the covenant with Abraham; 3. the exodus from Egypt with Moses; 4. God's fidelity to spousal love for his people; 5. the abundant blessing and fruitfulness of God's word; 6. the wisdom and secure guidance of God's word; and 7. God's promise to recreate our hearts by the gift of his Spirit.
Romans 6: 3-11 presents Baptism as the mystery of our dying and rising in Christ to live "in newness of life."
The true mystery of our redemption is that, through Christ's death as "Lamb of God" our sins were not just forgiven but taken away (John 1:29). By Baptism we were "baptized into his death" and "buried with him." Jesus on the cross took us, with all of our sins, into his own body on the cross. "For our sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2Corinthians 5:21).
When Jesus died, we died in him. Our "sinful self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed" with all the sins we had ever commit- ted or would commit. "Whoever has died is freed from sin." Our sins no longer exist. They are no longer part of our past, no longer part of our history. The one who committed those sins died and was buried with Christ.
Then, when Jesus rose from the dead, we rose in him, so that we might "live a new life" as his risen body on earth. "If we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him."
In Matthew 28: 1-10 (Year A) Jesus tells the disciples not to look for him by going back to the empty tomb, but in Galilee, where he is "going before you," alive and active. As disciples we will meet the risen Jesus by recognizing him alive in ourselves and others, looking for him in our daily lives, listening for his voice in our thoughts, discerning his action in what we feel and experience.
In Mark 16: 1-8 (Year B) The women went to the tomb even though they saw no way to enter it: "Who will roll back the stone for us?" But when they got there, it was done for them. As disciples, we keep reflecting on Christ's words even when it seems impossible to live by them (see Mark 10:27; 14:36; Luke 1:45).
In Luke 24: 1-12 (Year C) the women are asked, "Why do you search for the living One among the dead?" We should not look for Jesus by dredging up the dead works of our past, but by discerning his action in our hearts right now. It may "seem like nonsense" to us that God does not remember or pay any mind to our past sins, but it is true. We died in Christ and rose as a "new creation" (2Corinthians 5:17).
The Liturgy of Baptism begins by celebrating the visible presence of the risen Jesus in the Saints. In addressing them we also acknowledge that they are alive in heaven, as we shall be. Christ has overcome death.
The Blessing of the Water reminds us that:
water was the matrix of life at creation;
through the waters of the great flood God "made an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness";
through the waters of the Red Sea God delivered us from slavery and set us free;
in the waters of the Jordan Jesus was "baptized and anointed with the Spirit";
from the blood and water that flowed from Christ's side on the cross the Church was born;
the waters of Baptism do all of these things for us.
Then we renew our Baptismal promises, recommitting to live out our Baptism with faith.
Initiative: Renew your Baptismal promises during the Easter Vigil as a conscious commitment to learn to live as the risen Jesus by persevering discipleship.