Sabbatum Sanctum – Holy Saturday – 11 April – Easter Vigil in the Holy Night, Readings: Genesis 1:1-2:2, Psalm 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12-14, 24, 35 or Psalm 33:4-7, 12-13, 20-22, Genesis 22:1-18, Psalm 16:5, 8-11, Exodus 14:15–15:1, Responsorial psalm Exodus 15:1-6, 17-18, Isaiah 54:5-14, Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13, Isaiah 55:1-11, Responsorial psalm Isaiah 12:2-6, Baruch 3:9-15, 32–4:4, Psalm 19:8-11, Ezekiel 36:16-28, Psalm 42:3, 5; 43:3-4, Romans 6:3-11, Psalm 118:1-2, 15-17, 22-23, Matthew 28:1-10
In these most difficult times, when we are excluded from our Churches, from our Sacraments, I have found much consolation in doing all the readings at home, with these reflections from Cardinal-elect (nearly – sadly he died just before the ceremony) Hans Urs. Perhaps, these times are “nothing but occurrences of grace.”
Light of the Word
Genesis 22:1-18, Exodus 14:15–15:1, Matthew 28:1-10
By Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988)
“He has Ripped Open a Hole in History that Can Never be Filled-in Again.”
1. With Jesus’ death, the word of God ends.
In the weariness of Mary, pierced by every possible sword of suffering, the Church mutely holds vigil at the grave.
All living faith, all living hope, is deposited with God.
No premature Alleluia sounds.
The watching and waiting Church takes the time to recall the long path through all stages of salvation history that God has followed with His people, since the creation of the world – seven events unfold before the Church’s spiritual eyes.
She sees salvation, even in the most difficult of all events – in Abraham’s sacrifice, in the narrow escape across the divided sea, in the homecoming from exile.
And she understands, that they were nothing but occurrences of grace.
The sacrifice of Isaac, ultimately confirmed, both Abraham’s obedience and God’s promises; apparent submersion in the sea, proved to be Israel’s salvation and the burial of it’s enemies; exile itself, was Israel’s lengthy purification and return to God.
2. Thus, in the second reading (Exodus 14:15-15:1) the Church recognises that her own death in Baptism, is a dying with Jesus, a dying into eternal salvation n Him, a dying into resurrection with Him toward God, into a new sinless and deathless life.
No mere ceremony can accomplish this miracle – only a genuine “co-crucifixion” with Christ, of the old, sinful man, a co-crucifixion that permits a co-dying and co-burial to take place, can accomplish this.
This is essentially, a gift given by God to the person baptised, a gift that is also a lifelong challenge to make the gift come true in the Christian’s existence.
The two belong inseparably together, if the gift given in Christ is to prevail in the Christian’s life – he must become what he is, he must unfold what he has!
Thus the shift from Good Friday to Easter, must be two things at once – joy at the most sublime gift and determination to keep one’s baptismal promises.
It is fitting to renew these promises while celebrating the Easter Vigil.
3. Only now, can the holy women hear the angel’s message.
He invites the women to come closer and view the empty place where Jesus lay.
“He is not here.”
No longer visible, tangible, confirmable in time and place – all this must be renounced.
In all of world history, no-one has left so “emply a place” behind, as did this person who was buried here, only yesterday.
He who entered history, with such emphasis, is no longer comprehensible within history.
“He is risen, as he said,” He has ripped open a hole in history that can never be filled-in again.
Thorough guarding of the grave could not prevent this opening and the more men try to fill it, to plug it up, the wider it gapes.
Instead of this emptiness, the women are given the joy of their message to the disciples, a joy that is further intensified, when the Lord Himself appears to them and renews the mission: “They should go to Galilee, where they will see me.”
There, where everything had begun, in the ordinariness of a secular calling, new life would begin.
In the unpretentious, begins the incomprehensibly unique!
Be blessed, be joyful for the Lord is HERE! ‘Become what you are, unfold what you have!’