Holy Saturday Vigil Mass
April 11, 2020
Holy Saturday…what a strange day! It feels strange every year….a quiet day. But this year, stranger than ever, exaggerated by the social distancing that we have embraced, exaggerated by all of us protecting ourselves with face masks.
Fear is rampant. This virus is deadly. And yes, people are surviving. Today is also our celebration of survival
The Church insists that we read the creation account on Holy Saturday. That beautiful reading insists that at the end of each day of creation, God looked back at what He had done and said it was good. So, the framework of our reflection begins with, “God is good, creation is good.”
The other scripture that the Church insists we read is the Exodus account of the Israelite escape from Egypt. This is the story of God’s direct intervention. The lesson is: God is on our side.
A good number of years ago, I was invited by the local Rabbi to celebrate Passover with him and his family. I was not the only invitee. He had invited the local Methodist minister and the local Episcopalian priest as well. The rabbi positioned me next to his young adult son, who guided me through the celebration (so I wouldn’t make a fool of myself) It was a very joyful celebration. They really celebrated the liberation of the Jewish people. But they did not stop with the scripture stories of liberation. They included later stories of the persecution of the Jewish people, up to and including the Holocaust. All stories of liberation and survival.
God is always with His people. God is always with us. But God does not work by magic. God does not remove all pain and suffering from our lives, but God is with us throughout our journey of life.
We are enduring an extremely dark time in human history. Many of us thought that there could be nothing darker than 9/11. But this COVID 19 is worse. All over the world, people are dying from the corona virus. Thousands upon thousands in China, France, Spain, Italy, the Middle East and especially in our own area.
How we admire all those brave women and men in the front lines of this war; doctors, nurses, technicians and first responders. We owe them a debt of gratitude. We pray that God will protect them, keep them safe and reward their sacrifices.
The Holy Saturday Vigil begins in darkness. How symbolic that is! But it does not stay in darkness. A new fire is enkindled, shedding light and bringing warmth.
A new Paschal Candle is lit. It is a sign for us that the Christ who suffered, died and was buried, could not be constrained by death. He is alive!
Like the women in today’s Gospel, we’re not sure what to make of all this. The tomb is empty. They are confused. We are confused. An angel appears: “Do not be afraid”. The women run to tell the apostles. Jesus appears to them. He repeats what the angel had said to them, “Do not be afraid.”
A few months ago, at Christmas, the Church quoted the prophet Isaiah, “A people living in darkness have seen a great light.” Our darkness gives way to the great light of the Resurrection. Our fears, our anxieties, yield to the Risen Lord.
Yes, we keep our social distances from one another. Yes, we stay in our homes, isolated from one another. Yes, we wash our hands more often and more thoroughly. But NO, we do not let fear paralyze us.
Jesus is risen! Jesus is alive! Alleluia!... Alleluia
Happy Easter to you all ,