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Sunday:       Easter Vigil - the Resurrection of the Lord.
Date:         April 19, 2014.
Year:         A
The readings: First Reading: [Gen. 1:1-2:2]
              Second Reading: [Gen. 22:1-18]
              Third Reading: [Exo. 14:15-31, 15:20-1]
              Fourth Reading: [Is. 54:5-14]
              Fifth Reading: [Is. 55:1-11]
              Sixth Reading: [Bar. 3:9-15, 32-4:4]
              Seventh Reading: [Ezek. 36:16:17a, 18-28]
              Epistle: [Rom. 6:3-11]
              Gospel: [Mt. 28:1-10]
The message:  He has been raised from the dead.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry
Total words:  1060

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** The readings follow the sermon.

The angel said, "He has been raised from the dead." [Mt. 28:7] My brothers and sisters in Christ, these words of the angel from the Gospel of Matthew summarize why we are here tonight. The vigil Mass is considered to be the first Easter Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord. Our faith community has gathered here during this evening to participate in the mystery of the Holy Mass with joy and praises in commemoration of the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

During this very special evening, wherever the Easter Vigil is being celebrated throughout the world, the catechumens are being baptized, confirmed and invited to receive the real Presence of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. For them, the Easter Vigil celebration completes nearly a year of journeying in the faith of our Mother Church that was established on earth about two thousand years ago by Jesus Christ Himself.

(Optional: May I take this opportunity to welcome home all those who have chosen to be in communion with our faith community.)

On the night before He died, Jesus prayed for our unity. He said, "And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you, Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one." [Jn. 17:11] Jesus' prayer was that we may be one as He and the Father are one. By the grace of the Heavenly Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the catechumens have been shown the way home so that we may be one as Jesus and His Father are one. Praise God for manifesting His loving grace that is seen in the building of the Mystical Body of Christ.

In view of the fact that we heard an unusual large number of Bible readings tonight, I will briefly summarize their meaning. The First Reading from the Book of Genesis [Gen. 1:1-2:2] indicated that everything that God had made, it was very good. [Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31] Seven times, we heard, "And God saw that it was good." If God saw that it was good seven times, surely, His creations must be very good, all of it serving a purpose in His Divine progressive plan.

The Second Reading [Gen. 22:1-18] reminded us of the event when Abraham obeyed God's command to go and sacrifice his only son Isaac whom he loved. This was a real test of faith for Abraham. Because he obeyed the Lord, at the last minute, the life of his son was spared. In recompense, the Lord promised to Abraham that He would make his offsprings as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore [Gen. 22:17] and by his offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessings for themselves. [Gen. 22:18]

In the Letter of Paul to the Romans, we are told that "Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness." [Rom. 4:3, 9] The same righteousness that Abraham received, it is bestowed upon all those, that meaning all of us, "who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, 'I have made you the father of many nations')." [Rom. 4:16-7]

The Third Reading from the Book of Exodus [Exo. 14:15-31, 15:20-1] reminded us of the event when the Lord God freed the children of Israel from the Egyptian slavery. This event was a picture of what was to come, that through our faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, [Jn. 3:5] we would be freed from the slavery of sin. [Rom. 6:7]

The Fourth Reading from the Book of Isaiah [Is. 54:5-14] recounted the promise of the Lord God to have compassion for us, that He would be our Redeemer.

The Fifth Reading, also from the Book of Isaiah, [Is. 55:1-11] was an invitation to abundant life. It was a promise from the Lord that if we came to Him, we would live and He would make an everlasting covenant with us.

The Sixth Reading, from the Book of Baruch, [Bar. 3:9-15, 32-4:4] reminds us to walk in the way of God so we may live in peace forever. We were told that wisdom is the Commandments of God, the law that endures forever. All who live righteously by obeying the commands of God will live. Those who forsake the commandments, they will experience spiritual death. To experience spiritual death means to be eternally separated from the Presence of God.

The Seventh Reading from the Book of Ezekiel [Ezek. 36:16:17a, 18-28] contained God's promise to sprinkle clean water upon us. He promised to put within us a new heart and a new spirit. Over and above this, He promised to place within us His indwelling Spirit to help us obey His commandments.

The Eight Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans [Rom. 6:3-11] reminds us that through the Sacrament of Baptism, we died with Christ, we were buried with Him, and we have been raised with Him so that we may walk in the newness of life.

The final reading from the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 28:1-10] recounts the event surrounding the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. When Ma4ry Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb early on the Sunday morning, they were greeted by an angel who told them that Jesus had been raised. Accordingly, the women should go and announce the good news to the disciples, telling them to go to Galilee where they will see Jesus again.

My friends in Jesus, the death of the Lord is not just a fairytale. It was witnessed by more than five hundred brothers and sisters of the early Church. [1 Cor. 15:6] One Christian may have imagined it. Two Christians may have imagined it. But surely, all five hundreds could not have imagined it!

Tonight, we commemorate the glorious Resurrection of Jesus, His Resurrection being a symbol of our faith. As the body of Jesus was raised from the dead, our bodies will also be raised. As we continue to participate in the great Feast of the Holy Eucharist, let us rejoice and praise God in thankfulness for all that He has done for us. May His Most Holy Name be praised forever!

* * * * * * * * * *

The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

* * * * * * * * * *

First Reading...

"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while the spirit of God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "Day," and the darkness he called "Night." And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome "Sky." And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. God called the dry land "Earth," and the waters that were gathered together he called "Seas." And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so.

God made the two great lights - the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night - and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let us make human beings in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created human beings in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so.

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done." [Gen. 1:1-2:2]

* * * * * * * * * *

Second Reading...

"God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" And Abraham said, "Here I am." God said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you."

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him.

On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you." Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together."

Isaac said to his father Abraham, "Father!" And Abraham said, "Here I am, my son." Isaac said, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.

When Abraham and Isaac came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." The angel said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.

So Abraham called that place "The Lord will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided."

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, "By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice." [Gen. 22:1-18]

* * * * * * * * * *

Third Reading...

"The Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelite to go forward. But you, lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers."

The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh's horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch, the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt."

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers." So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained.

But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.

The prophet Miriam, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:" [Exo. 14:15; 15:20-1]

* * * * * * * * * *

Fourth Reading...

"Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts. Your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts in His Name; the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth He is called." For the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, like the wife of a man's youth when she is cast off, says your God.

For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.

This is like the days of Noah to me: Just as I swore that the waters of Noah would never again go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart form you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, I am about to set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you." [Is. 54:5-14]

* * * * * * * * * *

Fifth Reading...

"Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it." [Is. 55:1-11]

* * * * * * * * * *

Sixth Reading...

"Hear the commandments of life, O Israel; give ear, and learn wisdom! Why is it, O Israel, why is it that you are in the land of your enemies, that you are growing old in a foreign country, that you are defiled with the dead, that you are counted among those in Hades? You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom. If you had walked in the way of God, you would be living in peace forever.

Learn where there is wisdom, where there is strength, where there is understanding, so that you may at the same time discern where there is length of days, and life, where there is light for the eyes, and peace. Who has found her place? And who has entered her storehouses?

But the one who knows all things knows her, he found her by his understanding. The one who prepared the earth for all time filled it with four-footed creatures; the one who sends forth the light, and it goes; he called it, and it obeyed him, trembling: the stars shone in their watches, and were glad; he called them, and they said, "Here we are!" They shone with gladness for him who made them.

This is our God; no other can be compared to him. He found the whole way to knowledge, and gave her to his servant Jacob and to Israel, whom he loved. Afterward she appeared on earth and lived with humanity.

She is the book of the commandments of God, the law that endures forever. All who hold her fast will live, and those who forsake her will die.

Turn, O Jacob, and take her; walk toward the shining light. Do not give your glory to another, or your advantages to an alien people.

Happy are we, O Israel, for we know what is pleasing to God." [Bar. 3:9-15, 3:32-4:1]

* * * * * * * * * *

Seventh Reading...

"The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, when the house of Israel lived on their own soil, they defiled it with their ways and their deeds; their conduct in my sight was unclean. So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for the idols with which they had defiled it. I scattered them among the nations, and they were disposed through the countries; in accordance with their conduct and their deeds I judged them.

But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that it was said of them, "These are the people of the lord, and yet they had to go out of his land."

"But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came. Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.

I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes.

I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.

I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.

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. I will put My Spirit within you, and make you follow My statutes and be careful to observe My ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God." [Ezek. 36:16-28]

* * * * * * * * * *

The Epistle Reading...

"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with Him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like this.

We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." [Rom. 6:3-11]

* * * * * * * * * *

Gospel Reading...

"After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.

But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples. He has been raised from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee: there you will see him. This is my message for you.

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, 'Greetings!' And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." [Mt. 28:1-10]

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