22 March 2008

Homily - 22 March 2008 - Holy Saturday

Dear brothers and sisters, this night we have begun in darkness, but “the darkness has not overcome” the light (John 1:5)! He who is “the light of the world,” Christ the Lord, has not been extinguished (John 8:12)! Though yesterday it seemed this light had been snuffed out by death, his light still shines brightly, “dispelling the darkness of this night!”[1] This is the night!

This is the night of our salvation “when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.”[2] For this reason the angel says to us, “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 28:5)!

Do not be afraid, for Christ our light shines brightly within our midst. Christ our Light shines brightly upon the path before us, illuminating the way in which we are to walk and live. Christ our light shines brightly, having “destroyed the darkness of sin!”[3]

All of this we proclaim this night with the great Paschal candle, symbol of the Risen Lord among us.

This candle was lit at the beginning of our festivities from the newly blessed fire. Then, I proclaimed:

Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to him, and all the ages, to him be glory and power through every age for ever. Amen.
As I proclaimed Christ the Lord of time and history, I traced the Cross – the sign of death but also of victory - upon the candle, as well as the Alpha and Omega and the year two thousand and eight. These words and actions give to this candle the symbolism of the power and lordship of Jesus Christ.

Next I prayed, as I inserted five grains of incense into the candle – one for each of Jesus’ sacred wounds:

By his holy and glorious wounds, may Christ our Lord guard us and keep us. Amen.
The grains of incense I inserted in the form of the Cross, marking the candle with the glorious wounds of the Savior by which we are saved and in which we find refuge.

Then we entered the Church, following the Light of the World as the Israelites followed the pillar of fire in the desert.

Leading and shepherding the pilgrim Church, I held aloft the light of Christ to which you exclaimed, “Thanks be to God!”

Yes, thanks be to God! Thanks be to God for this glorious night when Jesus Christ, the “Morning Star, who came back from the dead, [sheds] his peaceful light on all mankind![4]

Whenever we look, then, upon this candle we see Christ our light and recall his glorious death and resurrection and the wounds he still bears for us.

Yes, Christ is risen! He does indeed go before us and he meets us on the way. We are not alone! We do not walk in darkness! Christ is with us “always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)!

Yes, this is the night! This is the night when all things are changed and the long reign of sin and death is ended.

Rejoice, all you who walk in the light of faith! “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)! Christ “has been raised just as he said” (Matthew 28:6)! Amen! Alleluia!

[1] The Exultet.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.

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