Our Lenten journey is coming to an end. Our feet are being washed, we are sharing the bread, we are walking with our weary Lord the bloody steps to Calvary. Did we really shout “Crucify him!”? We did. And our sins are laid bare. By his stripes we are healed. By his wounds we are made whole. By his dying we are reborn.
“As Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glorious power, we too should begin living a new life”. (Romans 6:4)
The uneasy prayers before Saturday’s still quiet tomb give ample space to reflect on our imperfect Lenten project. No, we cannot save ourselves. Virtue, discipline, heroic self-sacrifice, nothing will ever be enough. And, yet, our prayer, penance and works of charity have nurtured our hope that a new world and a new life are possible.
The Easter Vigil bids us come, now, and listen to the lengthy narrative that recounts the history of God’s saving interruption of the human saga. While we were yet sinners, strangers, far from God, God loved us. We fidget and fuss in our seats until our impatient sighs are finally sung into “Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!” God’s love is more powerful than sin, suffering, and every form of evil the human heart can contrive, even death itself.
And now the candidates come forth—across the globe, thousands—to die and be reborn in the waters of regeneration. In those communities where baptism takes place by immersion, we view brothers and sisters being submerged into the holy waters, and rising up, gasping for air, water cascading from their faces, to the applause and approval of the gathered assembly. Lest we become too giddy, Paul sternly reminds us: “You cannot have forgotten that all of us, when we were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into his death. So by our baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glorious power, we too should begin living a new life”.
In our Lenten Journey, we are humbled to realize that we have come to the Lord’s house as strangers, wanderers in rags, hands outstretched and heart’s broken, to receive the Father’s forgiving embrace. Now, in our Easter joy, we are honored, as God’s sons and daughters, restored and forgiven, walking in the light, together, called to move forward the work of God’s Kingdom.
This annual celebration of the Paschal Mystery, flows over us in the waters of baptism, washes away our lust for self justification, forgives our sins and pours into us the new life of sanctifying grace. And we are new creatures, our lives are not our own. We are disciples, missionaries, ambassadors, servants, called to go forth and proclaim the Good News of God’s saving love to all.
And our preaching will not just be in words. We who have intimately experienced the generosity of God’s mercy and kindness, will love others as God has loved us. We welcome the poor and the stranger. We share our bread with the hungry. We see Christ in the poor and the vulnerable and say, “Be not afraid. I am with you. I will walk with you into the house of the Lord. The God who made us both has sent me to be with you. God has overcome sin and death. The Lord is Risen. And he walks with us. Be not afraid. You are not alone”.