Homily Easter Vigil April 8th, 2023

Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil – Mk 16:1-7

            The Easter Exsultet, the hymn that was sung at the beginning of the vigil, uses the word “night” 12 times, and each time, it speaks of how tonight, this very night, changes the world. For instance, we heard that “this is the night that even now, throughout the world, sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices and from the gloom of sin,” “O truly blessed night, when things of heaven are wed to those of earth, and divine to the human.” “This is the night that . . . banished the darkness of sin.” “The sanctifying power of this night dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.” It is a powerful night, a night of change, redemption, and of the manifestation of God’s victory over sin and death. The One who says, “Behold, I make all things new,” has indeed done so. Because of tonight, everything changes; the fallen world that was enslaved to Satan and to sin is now redeemed and set free. Everything is made new, because Jesus Christ, who died once for our sins, has now risen, and has come back from the dead.

            We can see the power of this night in the Gospel we just heard. The women head to the tomb in order to anoint Christ’s dead body, and they worry about how they’ll be able to roll back the heavy stone from the entrance. They’re off to do a good deed, and are concerned about something important. But, unbeknownst to them, the night before changed everything. Now there is no dead body to anoint, no stone to roll back, and no gloom or sadness to be found. Before suffering was without value, sin reigned, and death never relinquished those she took hold of; now, suffering finds its meaning in the mystery of redemption, the power of sin has been broken, and death is simply the prelude, the entrance, to eternal life. Instead of being concerned about the dead, the women are now concerned about the living, and about dying to self in order to have everlasting life.

            For those who will be baptized, or receive first communion, or be confirmed, for you, too, and in a very special way, tonight changes everything. In a very particular and unique way, you share in Christ’s death and resurrection, as He brings you closer to Himself, freeing you from sin, giving you His very life, and strengthening you for the rest of your life. You will be buried with Him through baptism, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, you too might have newness of life.[1] For you, everything changes: the life you led before dies, and you become a new creation. You enter the tomb with Christ, dead to sin, and come forth, alive in grace, hope, and joy. Ask Jesus what He wants for you and your lives. Ask Him how you can serve Him best, and, just as He laid down His life for you, ask how you can lay down your life for Him. Tonight changes everything. It is the night that sets us apart from sin and from the rest of the world.

            Just as tonight changes the world, changes history, and changes everything, let all of us ask for the grace for it to change us too, that we might no longer be slaves to sin, gloom, and sadness, but rather live in the joy of Resurrection, freed from sin, and confident in God’s love for us. Let us ask, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Risen Christ, for the grace to live with our sight set on heaven, on the reward that is to come after the challenges and difficulties of this life and in the joy that is ours if only we let this night illumine our darkness.


[1] Cf. Rm 6:4.

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