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Homily for Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter



March 26, 2016, at Catholic Urawa Church


The Easter Vigil is the richest and most important liturgy that has been passed down by the tradition of the Church. Tonight, I’d like to focus on baptism and deeply appreciate its meaning with you all.

The rite of baptism includes Clothing with the White Garment, when the priest says to the newly baptized: “You have become a new creation and have clothed yourselves in Christ. Walk in Christ as you eagerly wait for the fulfillment of the kingdom of God.” Receiving the white garment signifies being born anew to become a new self.

Subsequently, the newly baptized receive the baptismal candles lit from the Paschal candle. This symbolizes that they have received the life of resurrection to live and the light of resurrection to enlighten people.

Baptism, as Paul teaches in one of today’s readings (Romans 6:3-11), means being united with Christ in his death and resurrection, dying with him and living with him in newness of life. The baptized bury their old selves enslaved to sin and are born anew as the new selves with the life of the resurrection of Christ.

The reading from the Book of Exodus describes how the people of Israel were delivered from their slavery in Egypt and led through the Red Sea on dry land. As the subsequent prayer says, it was a type of the sacrament of baptism with the Red Sea prefiguring the baptismal font and the people of Israel prefiguring Christian believers delivered from sin through baptism.

The Book of the prophet Ezekiel (36:16-28), another of the Easter Vigil readings we heard tonight, shows that baptism was already prophesied in the Old Testament days: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (36:25-26) By the work of God’s Spirit our stony hearts are crushed to pieces and transformed into docile and supple hearts of flesh. We can be made entirely new!

As humans, we often experience things beyond our control. Some may be filled with self-loathing. But no matter how those things may look to the human eye, no matter what we ourselves think of them, nothing is impossible with God. We can let go of any past and be born anew.

Dear catechumens ready to be baptized tonight, the new life you’re about to receive through baptism will be consummated by your final Passover, that is, death. Let us follow our faith in the resurrection to live Christ’s Passover from death to life, and offer our lives to Lord our God with hope and trust in the days to come.

[All the Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition (NRSVCE), copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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