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Saturday, April 11, 2020

Reflection 2020-04-11 Easter Vigil

Genesis 1:1-2:2; Psalm 104; Genesis 22:1-18; Psalm 16; Exodus 14:15-31, 15:20, 1; Exodus 15; Isaiah 54:5-14; Psalm 30; Isaiah 55:1-11; Isaiah 12; Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4.4; Psalm 19; Ezekiel 36:16-17, 18-28; Psalm 42-43; Romans 6:3-11; Psalm 118; Matthew 28:1-10
The Liturgy of Easter Vigil has a part where the Exultet is chanted. One of its verse is: Let this holy building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples. We can only imagine how loud that praise will be to make a building shake! This is what Easter is all about. It proclaims the victory of the Son of God made man, who died and rose victorious from the dead. It proclaims the power of God that broke the prison bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld (from the Exultet). The same chant also talks of the sanctifying power of this night. This power dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to the mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty. This is what the power of the resurrection does: it restores what was lost by our first parents.
St Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 if Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith is in vain because we are still in our sins. Verse 19 tells us: if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. If we only live for this life, then we are the most pathetic of all, because we hope in vain.
Easter tells us there is life beyond what we have now and all the readings show this. The First Reading shows the power of God to create everything out of nothing and everything God created is good. But Adam lost all these by his sin because he rejected God. But because God loves the world, the Second Reading tells us  he called Abraham and made a covenant with him, that all nations will be blessed through him. This shows God wants to bless all peoples.
The Third Reading shows what this blessing of God brings: an experience of the power of God that brings life and freedom. Israel was set free from Egypt, not because of their own strength, but by the power of God. However, despite the love of God to his people, they rejected him and God withdrew from them. The nation was destroyed and exiled. Like Adam, they lost what God has given them because they rejected God. Yet, God continues to love his people as seen in the Fourth Reading. He describes himself as their husband who abandons his wife because she has rejected him. And out of his love, he has compassion on her and calls her. This shows how much his heart yearns for his people. He tells them he is the only One who can save them, and he calls them to return to him and he is not angry at them. The Fifth Reading continues to show God calls to his people to come back to him and he reminds them of his fidelity to his covenant. While they are in exile, God promises to glorify them through a leader and other nations will run to them. He also tells them he will do this, not according to how they expect, but according to how he has planned.
The Sixth Reading shows the people what they need to do to see God’s plan for them: to give ear and learn wisdom... to walk the way of God and they will live in peace forever. Even in the midst of their exile, God promises peace. Similarly in the midst of our suffering and difficulties, we find peace when we walk the way of God. When we do, the Seventh Reading is fulfilled: God will take them from exile and bring them back to their own land. He will forgive their sins and change their hearts. He does this not because of the things his people has done, but because of his name.
The peace God intends is not the absence of conflict. Instead it is peace with God due to the forgiveness of sins. It is not deliverance from nations that conquer them but deliverance from sin and death through the death of Jesus. While the death of Jesus makes reconciliation with God possible, we must respond to this gift. As St Paul said in the Epistle, we need to walk in newness of life. This newness of life is turning away from our sins and turning towards Jesus. This turning towards Jesus is shown in the Gospel where the women were told by the angel that Jesus is not in the tomb. Our turning away from sin requires we also change our perspective on how we relate to God. we must see him as he is. Whereas before his death, his divinity was hidden. With his resurrection, Jesus reveals himself fully as God and man.
The women in the Gospel expect Jesus to still be buried in the tomb but when they arrived, they did not see him because he has risen. We too, if we want to receive the life God gives, need to see God from a different perspective because he is not where we have seen him. Our understanding of God needs to change, not because God is changing, but because we must grow in our perception of God. If what I know of God is the same as ten years ago, I have not progressed in my faith. My relationship with God must grow deeper and stronger as I continue in my life of faith. This is what the resurrection is about: a fresh perspective of who God is, where God shows us his power and plans and fulfills them according to his will, and not according to our expectations.
Do you have expectations of how God is to deal with your situation? If you have, open your heart to him and allow him to surprise you. God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He knows what he is doing. 
The Resurrection of Jesus proves, death is not the final destiny. Our destiny is heaven, with God for eternity. The pandemic has definitely changed the world. Our lives have been affected. Yet, we believe that through all these difficulties, through all these uncertainties, there is one thing that is certain: the presence of God in our lives when we turn to him and let him take control. Do not be afraid, Jesus has Risen. He has triumphed over sin and death. Come, learn his ways and be reconciled with God to have peace.
Lord, you have risen from the dead. My hope is in you alone. Reveal yourself to me. Show me who you are and lead me to you. Give me a new heart so I may open my life to you.

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