Words on the Word

Easter Vigil

Genesis 1:1-2:2: In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
Romans 6:3-11: The life he lives he lives for God. 
Luke 24:1-12: Why do you seek the Living among the dead?

In order to show us what Christ’s holy resurrection means, the Church takes us to the beginning of creation. The mystery we celebrate this night — and the historical fact we recall — is not just about an individual; it is not even just about humanity. It is about the entire cosmos.

The victory of Jesus over death gives us the key with which to unlock the sense of all that exists. The universe has always been a riddle to man. For ages he sought solutions in the stars. In our times, he has recourse to science. Ever smaller components of the real are identifiable through microscopes, while the telescope enables us to see how immense, and still growing, the whole of it is.

Such insight lets us see how the world works. Valuable as it is, it will never be able to answer the more fundamental: Why? This question lies beyond the remit of science. But it lies within ours, as Christians. Never forget it.

We have just heard what the myrrh-bearing women were told at the grace: ‘Why do you seek the Living among the dead?’ That there is one who alive and cannot dies, who is a source of life from the beginning and for all eternity, is the message of Easter. Tonight it is made palpable for us, visible in flesh and blood. With fervour we sing the glorious Alleluia which we buried on the eve of Ash Wednesday. Christ is risen from the dead! Death has no more dominion over him! Nor over us.

A quarter of a century ago Pope St John Paul II warned against what he called a ‘culture of death(Evangelium Vitae, 12). He maintained that it was spreading its tentacles around our society. It is not hard to see that he was right. What is most alarming is that many, not least the young, experience life as fully purposeless. Particular, concrete manifestations of a ‘culture of death’ — the elimination of the vulnerable, helpless, and weak, not to mention self-elimination — spring from principled nihilism. This tendency, which threatens the basis of our civilisation, cannot be fought with arguments alone; it requires a response by way of testimony.

What makes a man or women a witness is, from a Christian point of view, the presence in his or her life of a light that is not of this world; which enlightens not just by spreading information but by transfiguring that on which it shines. The ceremony with which our Easter Vigil begins is a sign of the task which, by the power of Christ’s victory, is mandated to us: to let our risen Saviour’s light spread throughout the world, that the world may appear in truth the way it is, that is, created by his love to live in him. Do not seek the Living among the dead! But give the living dead the sweet consolation of knowing that he lives. 

Christ is risen! May his light be our joy without end. Amen. 



Resurrection icon by Greta Leśko