Friday, April 22, 2011

A Reflection on The Entombed Christ

Holy Saturday Reflection

The Day of The Tomb

A Reflection for Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil by Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy

"We Adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the World" these words we say during the Stations of the Cross are a powerful affirmation of what this entire Lenten season is all about. Without Christ's death, we would not have the gift of redemption. When Jesus went to the cross, he did so willingly. He knew that he was taking all the sins of the world with him. That by the shedding of His blood, Christ made peace by reconciling everything with God according to Saint Paul. By Christ's death, a new light was brought to all men.

Today is commonly called Holy Saturday for many reasons the most obvious one is that it comes at the end of Holy Week. Holy Saturday in Latin is, Sabbatum Sanctum, which means the "Day of the entombed Christ" because it is the day Christ's body lay in His tomb. We reference it in the Apostle's Creed when we say "He descended unto the dead."

Holy Saturday is a day of suspense between two worlds, that of darkness, sin and death, and that of the Resurrection and the restoration of the Light of the World through Christ's rising from the dead through which we gained everlasting live because when he rose we overcome our death by sin.

Because of this reason no masses are held until the Easter Vigil begins that evening.

At Nightfall on Holy Saturday the Easter Vigil service or, Great Service of Light begins and it is a time of expectation as well as joy. The Easter Vigil Liturgy was restored to the liturgy in 1955, during the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council.

The Sacred Liturgy of the Easter Vigil signifies Christ's passage from the dead to living and it begins in darkness (sin, death) and is enlightened by the new fire and the candle representing Lumen Christi - the Light of Christ or the Paschal Candle. The Candle signifies The light of Christ's Truth by which the Mystical Body of Christ, the community of believers, is led from spiritual darkness to the light of God's truth.

Christ's baptism, which our own baptism imitates, is represented during the liturgy by the blessing of the water of baptism by immersing ("burying") the candle representing His Body into the font

During the liturgy we recall God's sparing of the Hebrews whose doors were marked with the blood of the lamb; when we are sprinkled with the blessed water by which we were cleansed from original sin through Christ's sacrifice, and we repeat our baptismal vows, renouncing Satan and all his works.

When a parish has people who had not been baptized as children or Confirmed and who had gone through the preparation period known as RCIA (Right of Christian Initiation of Adults) The entire faith community will be present as they are Baptized and/or Confirmed. This year our Faith Community of St. Joseph Cupertino in Fall River Massachusetts will be welcoming into the Mystical Body of Christ, The Church, 6 persons and I am pleased I will be a part of that glorious celebration as a co-celebrant.

The Easter Vigil Mass rejoices at Christ's bodily resurrection from the darkness of the tomb; and we pray for our passage from death into eternal life, from sin into grace from the anguish of the Cross to complete peace and infinite mercy and love of God, and from this sinful world unto the everlasting live with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and all the heavenly elect in heaven.

The Sacred Liturgy of the Easter Vigil celebrates Christ's offering himself up as the sacrificial lamb on the cross through which we gained the promise of everlasting life. Without the cross, the tree that gave us the promise of everlasting life, we would still be floundering around in the darkness of sin and confusion.

The triumph of Christ is not something of the past, it is a living thing. It is something we are called to live every day.

When we are faced with oppression, illness, rejection, alienation we need to recall that all these were faced by Jesus Christ. By his life and death, Christ made holy every aspect of the human experience. We need to look upon our lives and live them with that in mind.

Our lives are holy, they are holy if we are willing to work hard to live by the example Christ gave us.

Christ spoke out against injustice, Christ welcomed the outcast, Christ challenged the unjust rules and regulations of His time and we are called to do all of the same.

The cross is a symbol of Christ's triumph and this Paschal Season is our liturgical means of participating in Christ's gift of redemption.

Our challenge is to live by the lessons Christ gave us every day of every year.

Let us then celebrate Christ's willingness to suffer the indignities of the passion and a criminal's death on the cross, which brought us the forgiveness of our sins and our salvation and make it ours by being faithful to Him and carrying our crosses proudly for all the world to see by our actions and daily life.

In today's society there are many crosses being offered for us to take up.

Can we carry the cross of speaking out against injustice even though it may bring us scorn and reproach by friends and family?

Can we speak out against acts of discrimination and bigotry even though by doing so we may find ourselves in the minority?

Do we have what it takes to allow ourselves to be stripped of all our pretensions and allow the world to see our true selves?

Can we give of ourselves enough to be of assistance to those who are not able to provide the basic necessities of life for themselves?

All these are things that require us to give of ourselves and deny ourselves of being comfortable with the status quo.

Let us not only renew our Baptismal vows but let's promise to be work harder every day to live our life in accord with Christ's teaching to Love God with all our heart, mind, soul and body and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves which means we become more mindful of the needs of others and not just our own needs. AMEN

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