A blessed and happy Easter to you all! Today—the first day of a new week—Christ rose from the dead. It is a new day, and a new week, and a new era in which death no longer ends human lives. We now have something to live for! We have a future, which is to live this life well in preparation for heaven. My Easter Vigil homily from last night follows this morning’s brief reflection on St. Joseph.
Today’s title for St. Joseph is Christi Defensor Sedule (“diligent” or “zealous” defender of Christ). He defended the child Jesus from Herod, from schoolyard bullies, from sickness and injury, and from anything else that would harm the boy. Fr. Calloway points out that Joseph’s work for Jesus is done, but his work for you and me is not done. “A father’s work is never finished until his children are safely home.” So call upon Joseph when you are in a tight spot, and he will give you a fatherly hand. Say a prayer to him when you are discouraged, and this good father will give you courage to do what you must.
Homily April 12, 2020
The Easter Vigil
Our Favorite Mass
The Easter Vigil is everyone’s favorite Mass. This year we’ve had to tone down some its more spectacular elements: no blazing paschal fire, no adult baptisms, no litany of saints, no confirmations. For that matter, there is no congregation! But we’ve heard all nine readings, in accord with the Roman missal: “In this vigil, the mother of all vigils, nine readings are provided, all of which should be read whenever this can be done, so that the character of the vigil, which demand an extended period of time, may be preserved.” No global epidemic can stop us from spending an hour with the Scriptures, and I thank you for following this lengthy Mass at home. Try your best to dedicate the entire time for the Mass, and set apart a place at home for this sacred purpose (setting aside any possible distractions to true worship).
These Wonderful Readings
I love the first reading, the story of creation. God said, “let there be light,” and there was light. Pretty simple for Him. The sun and the moon and the stars spring out of nothing, rejoicing to serve Him. And so the sky, the sea and the dry land, the plants and the animals that teem in the waters and fill the earth came to be as well. Finally God makes man in his own image, male and female, and he saw how good it was. But God makes one more thing, on the seventh day. He makes rest. He knows how to rest, and if nothing else our present situation is affording all of us the golden opportunity to rest, to worship, and to adore the Creator.
Eastern Christians call the second reading “the binding of Isaac.” God tells the old man Abraham: “Take your son, your only one, the one whom you love … and offer him up as a holocaust on a mountain that I will show you.” Abraham goes as directed. He tells his servants: “you stay here while the boy and I go over yonder to worship.” He tells the boy that “God himself will provide for the holocaust.” The angel stays Abraham’s hand just before he would plunge the knife into his son’s throat, and he provides everything besides, “all this, because you obeyed my command.”
The third reading is an action-packed war drama, ending in complete victory for the underdog. God told his commander-in-chief Moses: “Tell Israel to go forward, and you, lift up your hands over the sea….” Moses stretched out his hand, and the sea parted. Thus the Lord saved Israel, and the children of Israel feared the Lord, they believed in him, and they sang to him: “I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant.” Pharaoh and his army learned, on that day, that there is a God, and that He provides for those who trust in Him.
I will not go through the other six readings one by one, but we come at last to the Gospel. Early in the morning the two Mary’s come to the tomb. A great earthquake announced the Lord’s messenger descending from heaven. This angel easily rolls back the massive stone, and then sits upon it with a little smirk: he makes fun of death’s fearsome finality, lightly taking the ponderous burial stone for his couch. “Do not be afraid” he says. You seek Jesus, whom you thought death destroyed. “He is not here. He has been raised up.” Come and see for yourself! But don’t just stand here gawking. “Go quickly and tell his disciples that he has been raised.” You will see him for yourselves in Galilee. But Our Lord did not wait for them to get to Galilee. He surprised them on the way, greeting them sweetly, and instructing them: “Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
This is the Day
“Let nothing disturb you,” St. Teresa of Avila told her dear sisters. The Almighty God will do anything to keep even one of us from falling into Hell, and no power on earth or in heaven or from hell can gainsay him. Many think that a little virus has gainsaid the entire world. They tell us that this week in America the Corona Virus is at its peak, killing about 2000 every day in our country. Nevertheless, haec dies quam fecit Dominus; exultemus and laetemur in ea. We may not simply keep those glorious words to ourselves. We must go quickly and tell our friends and family, our co-workers and our enemies: God will provide, as He provided at the dawn of creation, as he provided for Abraham and Isaac, and he provided for Moses at the Red Sea. God will provide. It is only ours to accept his grace, and to believe in His providence, blessed be He. A blessed and happy Easter to you all!