Sunday Readings in Brief Easter 2021
Easter Vigil: (1) Gen 1:1-2:2; Ps 104; (20)Gen 22:1-18; Ps 16; (3) Ex 14:15-31. 15:1; Ps-Ex 15; (4) Is 54:5-14; Ps 30; (5) Is 55:1-11; Ps-Is 12; (6) Bar 3:9-15. 32-4:4; Ps 19; (7) Ez 36:16-17a.18-28; (8) Ps 42; Rom 6:3-11; Ps 118; (9) Mk 16:1-7
Easter Sunday: Acts 10:34a. 37-43; Ps 118; 2 Cor 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-19
Understanding Easter Vigil
Dear friends, this is the second Easter that we are marking under the Covid-19 weather. Once again we will not be able to celebrate the mystery of our salvation in what we would call the ‘usual way’. However giving it a thought, I realize that this could be to our own advantage. It is an opportunity for us to evaluate how much we made out of these celebrations when we were free to interact. How much did we gain from every Easter we celebrated when things were “normal”? Had it become a routine every year? Now under Covid-19 restrictions, we begin to realize how shallow we had become in our faith. Let us use this opportunity to appreciate what God has done for us.
The vigil readings takes us through the history of salvation from the very first day of creation. We can say that God created us in order to save us. However, God did not plan that man and woman would go astray after he had created them. Nevertheless, he acted to save them when the disobeyed and sinned against him. Jesus becomes the culmination of the plan of God to save his people. He becomes the permanent mark of salvation available to all who wish.
The reading from Genesis 1 relates how God created everything in an amazing order and crowned all his creation with the making of man and woman. We can compare how God created with a loving man who buys a piece of land, puts up a garden with all types of crops and fruits, builds a beautiful house with everything inside and then marries a beautiful woman. It is not like someone who marries in a rented house, without a job or food in the house. God wanted to share the abundance of his love with man and woman and so he prepared the place for them. Psalm 104 recounts the marvelous of God’s creation.
Genesis 22 recounts the story of how God tested the faith of Abraham. After restoring hope of posterity to Abraham, God asked him to sacrifice the very gift of prosperity, he had given him, his son Isaac. Many of us would have broken relationship with God and decide not to let go what was in our hands. We would say better one bird in the hand than 100 in the air. Abraham must have thought that the same God who had blessed him with a son at his old age would be able to give him even more. Therefore, he did not hold back his son from God. Ps 16 is a song of confidence in God’s providence. We are called to trust in the plan of God for us without any reservations.
The reading from Exodus 14 recounts the pain that the people of Israel went through as they crossed the desert and across the Red Sea. They were afraid that God had brought them from Egypt so that they would perish at the shore of the sea. God never plans disaster for his people but rather uses the opportunity of a looming disaster to manifest his glory. That day, the people of Israel saw the power of God acting in their favour. Then the people sang the song of praise to God for his wonderful deeds. Let us not even for one-second think that God has abandoned us to suffer alone. God is always on our side in the face of evil.
Isaiah 54 reminds us that sometimes God may seem not concerned about our predicaments but he is always watching and will never let us be overwhelmed. Even though our pain is wrought by our own bad choices, God does not withdraw his mercy and compassion from us. he always want to rebuild us a new if we give him a chance. As we read in Ps 30, if we trust in God, we will always have the final lough. Our enemies will not prevail over us.
Isaiah 55 tells us that in the Lord’s house there is abundance of all we need. If we listen to God’s words, we will not be confounded because he will make things bearable for us. However, we are urged to take the advantage of the moment while it is available. Let us turn from our evil ways when we still can be saved. Sometimes people wait until it is too late to save them. Like someone who continues to overindulge in alcohol even when the doctor warns them of the imminent failure of their vital organs. If the person heeds the doctors advice and stops in time, he could be saved. However, if he does not, no one can save him when the lives, the kidney, the brain and other organs have been irreversibly affected. Let us take courage to act while there is something to be salvaged.
Prophet Baruch is explaining to the people the source of their sufferings in captivity. Their lack of prudence and disobedience to God’s commandment make us fall out of his protection and hence are taken captives by evil. Prudence and virtue are the secret to prosperity and long life. Those who turn to evil seeking prosperity does not get the true happiness but a fake one that neither satisfies nor lasts. Psalm 19 tells us that God’s commandment is immaculate and brilliant. It can only bring us good.
From the Book of Ezekiel we are told that the suffering of the Israelites in exile was because of their sins. They had defiled the Holy Name of the Lord by disobeying his commandments. However, for the sake of his Holy Name, God says that he will save them from the Gentiles and not for their own merits. The salvation we have is not because we have worn it but rather because God is merciful and loves us. None of us can brag that his or her own goodness is the source of his or her prosperity. Let us walk in the truth and the light of God.
Paul I his letter to the Romans reminds us of the real meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ. That in baptism we die in our sins and resurrect with him to a new life. Psalm 118 sings of the everlasting mercy and goodness of the Lord. Mercifulness and Goodness are part of God’s nature and he cannot act against his own nature.
The Gospel relates the incredible news of resurrection. He who was confirmed dead and his tomb heavily guarded has defied death and risen has he had promised. God always keeps his promise. He raised his own son from the dead so that we too can resurrect with him. Let us not seek the risen Lord among the dead. Jesus is alive with us and he want to share his new life with us.
It is always amazing to me that when Jesus had risen he did not go to the CBD in Jerusalem to show himself to those who had killed him like many of us would do. He showed himself to the few whom he entrusted to tell the story of his resurrection. I guess that this is what Jesus wished, that his resurrection not become another “Breaking News” and be subjected to misinterpretation and misrepresentation. He wished his resurrection be announced and preached by the people who believed in him. Peter and other disciples used a lot of energy to spread the Good News of the risen Christ. Two millennia afterwards the Church is still at pains trying to spread the same message of salvation.
Paul urges us to act like people who have been raised with Christ and not like fakes. Let us not act as though we never knew who Jesus was because this amounts to betrayal.
Once again, the Gospel presents us with the scenario of the morning of the resurrection. Mary Magdalene, a woman, becomes the first bearer of the news of the resurrection. She finds the tomb open and that the body of Jesus was missing. Peter and the other disciple goes to confirm and finds things the way the women had reported. It had not dawned on them that Jesus had told them he would resurrect.
My dear friend, the mystery of our salvation whose climax we reach today brings a lot of joy to us. The liturgy of the Church provides us with this incredible season to relive these moments with renewed spirit and motivation to continue to believe, to hope and to love knowing that our fate is confirmed if we remain faithful to our calling.
Have a blessed Easter.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD