Theme: IN THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM WE DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER!
- Genesis 1:1. 26-31;
- Genesis 22:1-2. 9-13. 15-18;
- Exodus 14:15-15:1;
- Ezekiel 36:16-28;
- Romans 6:3-11
- Mark 16:1-7
A happy Easter to all of you! The word Easter comes from the word east, the direction from which the sun rises. Just as the sun gives light, life, heat and energy, Jesus the new Sun gives the light of faith, eternal life, love, joy and peace (shalom)! We celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December in place of the feast of the pagan “sun god”, because Jesus is the new “Sun God”!
Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you! We began this Easter Vigil celebration with the service of light, because Jesus Christ is our light, that is, Jesus Christ gives us the light of faith, the light of life and the light of good; as opposed to unbelief, death and evil respectively, which is darkness!
More importantly, the three are connected, that is, when we have faith, we receive new life from God and we do good; but when we do not have faith, we do not receive new life from God and we do evil!
Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death and good will overcome evil! Because Jesus has overcome the Devil in himself, and Jesus will overcome the Devil in us by his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! And we receive his Holy Spirit tonight, in his Church in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, the three sacraments of initiation!
That is what the readings tell us tonight!
The first reading from Genesis tells us that we were created in the image of God, that is, like God, we have to create life, especially human life, we are co-creators of God; like God we have to love; and like God we are to be happy! That is the meaning of heaven!
But we sinned, we destroy life instead of create life. We destroy life in the environment, in wars, and we even destroy life in the womb of the mother, making it the most dangerous place in the world! We hate and we take revenge instead of loving and forgiving. And we are very unhappy instead of being happy like God in heaven!
But when we sinned God loved us even more! His Son Jesus Christ became man to save us!
The second reading from Genesis tells us that this history of salvation began with Abraham the father of faith! The second reading tells us that God tested Abraham’s faith, that is, God made Abraham’s faith stronger! Abraham’s faith was so strong that he sacrificed his only son Isaac, the son of the promise, to God!
But more importantly, Isaac prefigures Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world! (NJB; CCB) Jesus Christ did this by his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Again, tonight we will receive his Holy Spirit in his Church in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist!
The third reading from Exodus tells us that the Lord destroyed the Egyptians in the waters of the Red Sea and saved Israel in the waters of the Red Sea! In the same way, tonight, the Lord will destroy our sin and death in the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit and give us life, love and joy!
The fourth reading from Ezekiel tells us that the Lord will pour clean water over us to cleanse us and the Lord will put his spirit in us and we shall live! Again, in the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit, the Lord cleanse us from sin and death and give us his spirit and life!
Finally, the gospel/good news from Mark tells us that the Lord has indeed risen from the dead! The gospel tells us that the women went to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away! And on entering the tomb an angel (Mt 28:5) told them that the Lord has indeed risen and will meet the disciples in Galilee as he had promised!
Most importantly, the fifth reading from Romans tells us that in Baptism we are baptized in Christ’s death and just as Jesus Christ rose from the dead we will also rise from the dead with him to a new life, never to sin anymore!
We shall now proceed with the Liturgy of Baptism. We shall do three important things. We shall ask God the Father and the Son to send the Holy Spirit into the waters of Baptism. We shall then profess our faith in God the Father the Creator, God the Son the Savior and God the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier. We shall then be baptized in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! We shall then die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.