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Homily for Easter Vigil



April 4, 2015


Catholic Urawa Church

Dear brothers and sisters,
The Easter Vigil of this year has come today, after the long preparation. The Easter Vigil is the most important and the richest liturgy that has been passed down by the tradition of the Church. I think, properly speaking, we should spend a year tasting it, because it has such a rich content. Today, I'd like to choose just a part of this rich liturgy and taste it with you.

At the end of Genesis, Chapter 1, from one of today's readings, it says: "God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day." (Genesis 1:31)
The world that God had made is an extremely good world. However we cannot say that this real world is an extremely good world. How should we think about this fact?
We, human beings, exist in time. However God is not controlled by time. Time may be an everlasting 'now' for God. God is revealing to us, human beings who are living in the realm of time, that this present world is an extremely good world because of His rule and the coming and fulfillment of His Kingdom. We prayed in today's First Prayer.
"Almighty everlasting God,
You had made all things beautiful as the work of Your hands. Help your atoned people know that in the fullness of time, the whole world was renewed through Jesus' Passover, is more beautiful than the world created at the beginning."
The important theme of the Easter Vigil is "the history of salvation". God's magnificent rescue plan and its fulfillment are expressed through the whole liturgy.
The theme of Jesus' Mission was "The coming of God's Kingdom ". So that means God's Kingdom had already come with the coming of Jesus. But God's Kingdom isn't accomplished yet. We are given the faith that God will accomplish His Kingdom someday. God will accomplish this world in good time. That is God's Will. Therefore we can believe that God will surely accomplish our salvation and the completion of the world.

Now the rite of baptism will be held in today's Easter Vigil. Baptism, as Paul teaches in today's second reading, means being united with Christ in his death and resurrection, dying with him and living with him in newness of life. It means that 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 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. It was already told by a prophet in the Old Testament.
Ezekiel's prophesy is teaching us in the 7th reading of today. "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."(Ezekiel 36:25-26)
Our stony hearts are crushed to pieces and transformed into docile and supple hearts of flesh by the work of God's spirit. 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 today, the new life you are 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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