Reflection on the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night
Our Jewish kin celebrate Passover this week. Around family tables they are passing on the stories of their ancestors, the story of themselves as a people. We have just read the same Scriptures that we recognize as our heritage, the story of our people from Eve and Adam to the time of the Messiah’s coming. The layers and layers of ancient Scriptures remind me of the TV program, “Finding Your Roots,” in which individuals who have always believed their family to be thoroughly Irish or German or African, find their family trees have deep roots in totally different cultures, races and continents.
Like the participants in “Finding Your Roots,” most of us weren’t aware of any kinship with the Jewish people until we were adults. Vatican II introduced us to English language liturgies and new theologies, opening the Scriptures to us and enriching the history we read tonight. We discover that our people are the people of Israel, not in the flesh but in the spirit. By the blood of the Lamb, not only the Jews, but we, also, have been adopted as God’s chosen people. Our heritage is rooted in Israel, and the promises their God made to them: “I will be your God, forever,” and “I will sprinkle clean water upon you. … I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you.” The legacy we have received from our Jewish ancestors is built of enduring hope in the redemption promised by God and recorded in the prophets.
With the hope we inherited, God’s merciful grace has led us in faith to a new part of our story, rooted in a new ancestral line beginning with the Christ, the risen Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah — Emmanuel, a king whose throne was a cross, whose crown is resurrection, whose kingdom embraces all creation.
In tonight’s Gospel from Matthew our kinship story takes a new direction, beginning with the moment of Christ’s rising. The Christ meets the women and gives them a message, “Go tell my kin to go to Galilee and there they will see me. And do not be afraid.” The Christ immediately goes into Galilee — to be with his followers, even us, in the places of ordinary life.
Whether we see with our eyes or with our hearts, we will know the Christ as our Light and our Way. “Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. All time belongs to him and all the ages. To him be glory and power, through every age and forever. Amen.”