Theme: WE DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER IN THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
- Genesis 1:1-2:2;
- Exodus 14:15-15:1;
- Romans 6:3-11
- Matthew 28:1-10
A Happy Easter to all of you! The readings tonight tell us that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and that we rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism through the power of the Holy Spirit!
The first reading from the book of Genesis tells us that God created the universe in 7 days! God’s creation is not only “very good”, but God’s creation is perfect! The number 7 here symbolizes fullness, completeness, and perfection!
The first reading tells us that on the first day God created light! God separated light from the darkness to make the day and the night. On the second day God created the vault (arched roof) of heaven separating the waters above from the waters below. On the third day God separated the waters below from the land; and God created the vegetations, the plants and the trees! On the fourth day God created the sun, the moon and the stars. On the fifth day God created the fishes and the birds. On the sixth day God created the reptiles, the cattle, and the wild beasts; and God created human beings, the climax of God’s creation!
Human beings were created in the image and likeness of God, and like God human beings were given dominion over the fishes, the birds, the reptiles, the cattle, and the wild beasts! God “handed over” his creation to human beings and God rested on the seventh day!
But alas, the very next chapter of Genesis (chapter 3) tells us that human beings sinned against God and brought death to the world!
But the gospel (good news) tonight tells us that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! He has destroyed sin and death! The gospel tonight tells us that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was empty; and that the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and told the women that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead!
But more importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus himself appeared to the two women, Mary of Magdala and Mary mother of James and told them to tell the disciples that he has risen from the dead and that he was to meet them in Galilee! The two women became “apostles to the apostles”! They became the “first apostles”!
But most importantly, the letter to the Romans tells us that in Baptism we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter through the power of the Holy Spirit! Thus we read:
“When we were baptized in Christ Jesus we were baptized in his death; in other words, when we were baptized we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.”! (Rm 6:3-4)
Finally, the book of Exodus tells us that the crossing of the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptians are a symbol of our Baptism! The waters of the Red Sea are the waters of Baptism – the waters of the Holy Spirit!
Thus at the blessing of the baptismal water and as the priest lowers the Easter candle into the water, the priest says: “We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the waters of this font.”! And as the priest holds the candle in the water, the priest says: “May all who are buried with Christ in the death of baptism rise also with him to newness of life.”!
The Holy Spirit destroys sin and death and raises us to the new life of Easter! Thus after baptism we wear white garments! The garments of heaven! The garments of the children of God! The garments of purity! Thus we read in the book of Revelation: “they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.”! (Rv 7:14)
The Baptized are then presented with lighted candles, lighted from the Easter candle! The Easter candle is the light of Christ! Thus the Easter candle is marked with a cross, with the Greek alphabets Alpha and Omega, and with five grains of incense symbolizing the five wounds of Jesus Christ!
The light of Christ is the light of faith, the light of life and joy, and the light of goodness and good works (NJB/8:12b); as opposed to the darkness of the Devil, the darkness of unbelief, the darkness of death and misery, the darkness of evil and sin!
Our catechumens will also receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist tonight and every Sunday, so that they will grow in the new life of Easter! And after every Sunday Mass they will be sent on a mission to proclaim the good news, so that others may also believe and be baptized and be saved! The word Mass comes from a Latin word meaning mission!
But before our catechumens are baptized tonight, they will have to profess their faith by answering 3 questions! The book of Genesis tells us about God the Father, the gospel of Matthew tells us about God the Son, the book of Exodus tells us about the Waters of God the Holy Spirit, and the letter to the Romans tells us about Baptism!
Our catechumens will be asked if they believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Sprit, and if they answer “I do” to all 3 questions they will be baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”!
But even before they answer the 3 questions of faith, they will have to answer the 3 questions of rejection of Satan the Devil! Satan asks us not to believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! Satan asks us not to be baptized! Satan asks us to remain in sin and death! Satan asks us to remain with him in Hell!
But tonight we reject Satan and we profess our faith in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! Tonight Mother Church will baptize our catechumens in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! Let us now begin the Liturgy of Baptism! A Happy Easter to all of you!