My brothers and sisters in Christ, this is a night like no other. And while Christians throughout the world have gathered to celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter time and again over the course of centuries, we know that this night stands on its own. Each experience of Easter, each unique experience of resurrection follows a unique experience of Lent, and the Lord’s Supper, and Good Friday. We come to this night, this point in our journey of Holy Week, ready for exactly what we celebrate—resurrection, new life, rebirth in the risen one. And oh do we need it.
For those of you who will receive the sacraments of initiation, this is of course a night like no other. We welcome you, we are grateful for your commitment to the formation process you have undergone, and we love you.
It is not lost on me, or on any of us, that you each have made this decision, this commitment, to a church in the midst of an ongoing crisis of great magnitude. And I know that each of you have spent much time in discernment, discussing this reality with your sponsors, your families and each other.
If we have learned anything from this time in our church, let it be that nothing good comes from avoiding such conversations, and such discernment. There isn’t one of us here tonight who hasn’t been a part of that same process, and those same conversations.
And yet, tonight, each of you is here. Each of you has chosen to say yes. To say yes, not only to this particular faith community, but to the church in its many forms, and with its many shortcomings.
We have just heard the great stories, the tireless testaments of our faith. It is important to be reminded that our shared story began long ago, and continues in the church each of you will soon be initiated into. From the world’s beginning to today, through times of great famine, strife, and struggle, faith has been a steady source, a rock in which to build. The faith of Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Paul, and the faith of the women at the tomb who first preached the good news of the resurrection, their faith is the faith that we share.
It is the faith we will all profess together as we renew our baptismal promises. And it is the faith we share as we gather around the altar to share in the Eucharist, calling to mind the faith of those who gathered the night before Christ died, but also mindful of Christ’s real presence in the sacraments we share.
This is a night like no other, and ours is a time like no other. Earlier, as we began this Great Vigil, we did so by lighting the paschal candle, with these words, “May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.” And, having such darkness dispelled, we are called to carry that light not only into the darkness of a church, but into the world, dispelling the darkness that holds so many in our midst captive.
The light of Christ we carry loosens bonds, relieves sorrow, lightens loads of stress and worry, comforts the grieving, and nourishes the hungry. The light of Christ we carry protects the bullied and gives pause to the bully, it comforts and provides strength to the abused and brings abusers to justice. The light of Christ ends war, protects life, provides enough food for all God’s children, and brings healing to all those who are sick.
But that light will only shine if we carry it. And none of us can carry it alone. We carry it together, from this place, from this church, from this faith. It is the light received at baptism, the light from which we are formed and grow, and the light which will light our path to eternal life in the end.
This is a night like no other. Jesus Christ is risen, he is risen indeed. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Happy Easter.
Originally published in “Loose-leaf Lectionary for Mass,” Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copyright 2020. For subscription information, visit: https://litpress.org/loose-leaf-lectionary/index