“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad” (Ps 118:24). Alleluia! Alleluia!
((Easter Vigil: 1. Tonight we remember God’s Power in Egypt and the liberation of His people from slavery.
a) God hates slavery and oppression. The Israelites were slaves to Pharaoh who selfishly enjoyed the fruits of their labor and oppressed them with forced labor. The Israelites served a tyrant who was not concerned about human dignity, as long as he was served and was well-fed, nor had regard for human development, as long as his kingdom was wealthy and protected.
b) God hates greed. He created and owns the earth and does not want that only a few should benefit from it, especially at the expense of the weak. The Psalm expresses this very clearly: “The earth is the LORD’S and all it holds, the world and those who live there. For God founded it on the seas, established it over the rivers. Who may go up the mountain of the LORD? Who can stand in his holy place? The clean of hand and pure of heart, who are not devoted to idols, who have not sworn falsely. They will receive blessings from the LORD, and justice from their saving God. Such are the people that love the LORD, that seek the face of the God of Jacob” (Ps 24:1-6).
c) God tests and disciplines His children. The wandering in the desert was God’s test of His people’s trust in Him despite suffering. When the Israelites cried for help God listened to them and was ready to deliver them from slavery. From the aridity of self-contentment and self-absorption, God wanted his people to worship Him in truth and have an unparalleled obedience to His Will. Yet despite God’s manifestations of power and love, his people remained obstinate: they cried to Moses, why did you ever make us leave Egypt? There we had bread. Here, we will die of hunger. They were ready to trade their freedom from slavery for a piece of bread.))
((Morning: 2. The Resurrection of Jesus brings to us several truths of life:
a) Jesus showed us that real freedom comes from freely giving up one’s life for his neighbor. We serve a King who came to serve, not to be serve, to die so that we can have life, was buried so that we can also rise with Him. What a King!
b) Jesus taught us that the way to holiness and happy life is the way of obedience. Jesus was obedient until death, and He promises us eternal life only if we remain obedient to His words and commands. For the faithful, He also promises happy and well-provided life here on earth, along with the difficulties and trials in this world.
c) Jesus taught us that fullness of life comes from an honest friendship and loving relationship with Him. His Resurrection is also our resurrection from the aridity of our selfishness and indifference that keeps us from growing in holiness and keeps us away from His loving relationship.))
On the New Year’s Day of our civil calendar, we are just too ready to make our New Year’s resolutions. Today is God’s gift of another year for us, God’s Blessed New Year for us. He gave us the opportunity to prepare for this day in the weeks of Lent so that we can be worthy of Him. Can we not make our resolutions to Him as we have prepared ourselves during Lent, hopefully, in prayer, fasting and almsgiving and works of mercy?
Today, take a few minutes to ask yourself: who is your God, or probably, what is your god in your life? In our world of high technology and communications, we seem to be running after life. But don’t be scared to slow down and think of the things that God is telling you in the midst of the many things screaming for attention. It can be renouncing something of yourself to receive your brother who needs forgiveness or a neighbor who is in need of a little hope. It can be giving up a little pride and laziness so that you can participate well in the celebration of the Eucharist and in celebrations of your family. It can be returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation again for a few more things that you are holding back from God and the Church. It can be seeking the guidance of the Church and other groups to be open to God’s life rather than seeking convenience in the popularity and commercialism of abortion and artificial contraception that lead to the death of millions of babies. It can be our little works for justice and peace to assure people in their fears and anxieties that Jesus is our Lord and our way to peace. It can be a resolution not to be grumpy or irritable or judgmental, for life is too short for them. It can be any act that can make your family or neighbor happy and hopeful, for this is our only proof of life as Church and of our enduring trust in Jesus.
There is more to difficulties, problems and fears in life, as there is more to the suffering and death of Jesus. There was more to the empty tomb that Mark depicted to us. Jesus would meet His disciples in Galilee. Jesus meets His faithful followers in the Galilees of their hearts, in their work and responsibilities, in their relationships, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist. Jesus goes ahead of us because He knows the fears we experience, and He meets us wherever we are hurting or suffering or whenever we feel empty and afraid. He meets us wherever and whenever we are happy and hopeful.
St. Peter proclaims in the second Reading:
We are witnesses of all that he did . . . This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:39-42).
We keep our eyes on Him so that we do not get lost in the midst of this noisy and disordered world of selfishness and sin. We can as well teach people through our acts of kindness and humility that we are witnesses to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then our promises and resolutions to God will not be futile because, Jesus Himself lives in us and we are commissioned to teach and preach that He, and only He, is our life and our way to the Father, and He is the “judge of the living and the dead.”
A Japanese Proverb says, “Vision without action is a daydream but action without vision is a nightmare.” Let us consecrate ourselves to our risen Lord through Mary and the Holy Spirit, and celebrate this Eucharist as the memorial of His suffering, death and resurrection, so that we just don’t daydream of the Resurrection, nor find ourselves in the nightmare of suffering and death, but with our vision fixed on Jesus and our lives patterned in His ways, we will all rejoice and be glad in Him, for this is the Day the Lord has made.