After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”
So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
This is the night different from all other nights. We light a new fire in the dark. A single lit candle draws us into the assembly and its light passes among everybody, a community of open ears and hearts. This is the night of Christ’s standing in full life, out of the darkness, out of his dying. Faces in the candlelight, Christ risen in the assembly.
And there is more, the story read out again, from the first darkness before the First Day of creation. The stories of our many hesitations and miracles, continually claiming God’s mercy, this too we hear, we remember. We hear the liberation of the families out of Egypt, and remember through the years our own families, how they walked their hard road of faith, and now in a great communion they too surround us in this light. We are a free people, God’s always.
And there is more. New families begin this night, from the baptismal water and the anointings, from the promises and faith we all declare. And there is the bread of life, the cup of transformation, ours fully. Yes, such a fulness! Just as we belong at the table and the hill of the cross, we belong in this light, this vigil meal. We have a place with all these connections reaching around our shoulders and our hearts in peace. Christ among us breathing “Peace.”
Come and remember. There is nothing in the way.
—Fr. Richard Bollman, S.J., a Jesuit of the Chicago-Detroit province, is currently engaged in pastoral ministries in Cincinnati and at the Jesuit Center, Milford, OH.
Christ is risen! Shout Hosanna! Celebrate this day of days.
Christ is Risen! Hush in wonder: all creation is amazed.
In the desert all surrounding, see a spreading tree has grown.
Healing leaves of grace abounding bring a taste of love unknown.
—Brian Wrenn, b. 1936. © Hope Publishing Co.