Father Cioppi’s Easter Vigil Homily

“On this night in which Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church calls upon us to come together to watch and pray.  If we keep this living Memorial of the Paschal Mystery in this way, listening to His Word and celebrating the Sacraments, then we will have sure hope of sharing also his triumph over death and living with Him in God.”

And so, in these early hours before Dawn, we accompany the women to the Tomb.  There has not been time to provide the burial services for the body and so the women, who had attended Jesus through His Public Ministry come to the place where then had laid Him.

When they reached the Tomb, the stone was rolled away, and in it there was a messenger who gave them the unbelievable news that Jesus had risen from the dead.

The women were left stunned, as we are in this moment, Jesus has risen from the dead.  how can this be true?  Nevertheless, if it were not true, we would never have heard of Him, history would never have remembered Him.

The women had come to bury their Teacher; the Apostles’ attitude was one of defeat and of ultimate tragedy.

Be we know Him of Whom they speak! After two thousand years, the words are still freshly spoken, “Do not be amazed!  You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been raised; He is not here.”

We know that what the messenger said is true because now, we are witnessing the unbelievable event And, there are others who have come to believe, who seek a new Way of Life in the Risen Lord! 

Jesus is not a one-dimensional character in a book.  He is alive among us.  Maybe we at first heard of Jesus in a book, but we end here by meeting Him in the Rites He gave us to re-enact.

Nor is Jesus a mere memory either.  Human memory tends to fade.  Jesus is a living presence forever within us; for whenever we ‘Do this in Memory” we proclaim Him eternally.  He should not be just the object of our discussion, but always be the subject of our hearts.

This means that the Christian life is not the life of a person who knows about Jesus, but rather it is a life of a disciple who personally knows Jesus.  It makes all the difference.

The Resurrection we celebrate in these coming weeks is an active, endlessly re-generating life that never stands still because “Christ, is yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega; to Him all time belongs to all ages.”

My friends in the Risen Christ, the kerygma or message does not end here.  If we look again at the Gospel, we find the core of our Catholic identity and mission;  “Go,” and “tell the disciples and Peter”

Here is the fundamental truth that our Risen Lord hands us today: that once we have met Him we are compelled by faith to follow the example of the holy women to “go out an find Peter and from him tell anyone who will listen that Jesus is eager to comfort the penitent sinner by taking away the sin that binds him and healing the wounds that inflict him.

“The sanctifying power of this night dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to the mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.”

Today the Church calls upon Mary, our Queen of Hope, to guide us closer to the Heart of Christ, the Lamb who had redeemed the world and reconciled us sinners with the Father.  To Him Who is victorious over the Evil One, to Him Who is crucified and risen from the dead, we sing out with fearless joy, Alleluia!