Genesis 1:1-2:2 or 1:1, 26-31a
Genesis 22:1-18 or 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Isaiah 54:5-14, Isaiah 55:1-11
Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4, Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28
One of the things that has intrigued me about Holy Saturday before the Easter Vigil is the feeling of being "in-between." We have left our remembrance of Jesus’ Crucifixion on Good Friday, but have not yet arrived at celebrating His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. I have often recommended to people that they pray with Jesus in the tomb during the daytime hours of Holy Saturday, especially if they are at an "in-between" time in their lives. Sometimes we need to stay in the "in-between" until it becomes clear as to where God wants us to go.
When we come to that wonderful celebration of the Easter Vigil, with its symbols of light and water, and the reception of the elect into the Church, we hear many readings from the Hebrew Scriptures, as well as a reading from Romans, and a Gospel reading from Matthew. To have all these readings is unique to the Easter Vigil. They remind me of a family gathering, where one of the younger members says to the matriarch of the family, "Grandma, tell us the story about Great-Grandma coming over on the ship to America," or "Tell us the story about how you and Grandpa met." The story of Creation in Genesis, and the story of parting the Red Sea in Exodus are parts of our story as believers. And so of course, are Jesus’ Passion and death and Resurrection.
In the story of Jesus’ Resurrection in Matthew’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary find that Jesus is not in His tomb. Instead, they find an angel who says to them: "Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said." The implications for our story are profound. Jesus is not in the emptiness of despair or fear or hatred or anger. He has won the victory for us! And even if we are still experiencing our own Good Friday, we know Easter is coming. Thanks be to God, Alleluia!
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is the director of St. Paul of the Cross Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.