+HE HAS BEEN RAISED Easter Vigil, 2020
This vigil celebration takes on a unique significance as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds all over the world. This is evident from the fact that only we are gathered here for this Vigil. The reality of death is daily before our eyes as we are faced with what is happening among every people and Nation, in hospitals, nursing homes or among the poor on our streets. Intense as all this is, the angel telling the women in our gospel that Jesus is not in the place of his burial but has been raised from the dead, cuts through it all and speaks to our world like it has never done before.
People of all Nations are being reminded that physical death is not the end of human life but only the passage to something far better, to a fullness of life that is without end. Might we like the women in our gospel, be overjoyed. As persons of faith I wonder if this isn’t exactly what we are being called to, despite the fear and angst this pandemic is creating all around us.
For the Christian and all the more for us as monks, this is no surprise for day in and day out our lives are immersed in the mystery of Christ’s dying and rising to new life. Paul tells us that having been baptized into Christ Jesus, we were baptized into his death. We have been buried with him so that “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” What is happening in our world today has been going on spiritually every day of our lives as we die to sin, allow our old selves to be crucified with Christ, “so that our sinful body might be done away with” so as to be alive for God in Christ Jesus.
Might God in our time, especially in these last two months, be calling the whole human family into a firsthand experience of what is in store for those who believe in Christ risen from the dead. Though hidden from sight, our faith assures us that Christ has overcome the power of death so that it no longer has dominion over us.
We hear of the growing number of deaths due to the virus but this is nothing compared to the virus of sin that can take hold of our lives. The whole world is imposing restrictions on travel, gatherings of all sorts, liturgical celebrations etc. How is it that we don’t impose far stricter limits on human selfishness, places of human trafficking, luxurious living, the waste of our natural resources, on those who profit by facilitating addiction to drugs and alcohol? Often these are far more destructive than any virus will ever be. Is God helping us at this time to get our priorities right? Jesus overcomes death in all its forms as we allow faith in his risen life to fill our hearts.
What is happening in our world is drawing out the best in us. Countless nurses and doctors are risking their lives to serve the afflicted and suffering. Our own life takes on all the more meaning as it reveals the countless opportunities we have for giving witness to Christ’s risen life to all of the human family. None of us lives or dies for himself but for all of the human life on this planet. Gathered here we are one with all our afflicted sisters and brothers who are going through this time of suffering and uncertainty. As our hearts are cleansed, each of them is encouraged to be faithful.
When the angel has the women to go quickly and tell his disciples that Christ has been raised from the dead, he tells them that they are to go to Galilee where they will see him. Galilee is where Jesus first began his ministry but now they see it in a whole new light. Each of our own lives is now seen in a whole new light as Christ’s risen life lives in us. Like the bread and wine placed on this altar, we are transformed by the gift of the Holy Spirit into living members of his sacred Body. May we be such for one another, for all who are suffering today throughout the world. Amen
Romans 6:3-11; Matthew 28:1-10