The Night that Goes On and On
Homily for the Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord
Preached on March 26, 2016 at Jesus Our Savior Catholic Church, Morehead KY
Readings for the Easter Vigil: Genesis 1:1-2:2; Psalm 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35; Genesis 22:1-18; Psalm 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11; Exodus 14:15-15:1; Exodus 15:1-2, 304, 5-6, 17-18; Isaiah 54:5-14; Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13; Isaiah 55:1-11; Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6; Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4; Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11; Ezekiel 36:16-28; Psalm 42:3, 5; 43:3, 4; Romans 6:3-1; Psalm 118:11-2, 16-17, 22-23; Luke 24:1-12
This is the night that goes on and on and on and on.
It is when we begin in the darkness outside and enter into this place of light. It is when we read from the opening verses of the first book of the Old Testament and from the final chapter of the third Gospel written in the New Testament and it feels like we also read everything else in between. It is when we start out dry and end up getting drenched.
And that is just the beginning.
It took us forty days of preparation to get to this point. Surely, no one expects that what we have anticipated for so long would be done in an instant. Even God prolonged the work of creation to a week (cf. Gen. 1:1-2:3). He extended the work of redemption to three days (cf. Lk. 24:6-7). What He could have accomplished in the blink of an eye, He carefully unfolded throughout the history of salvation, lest our eyes missed the careful attention that He gave to every detail.
It is He who was not content to make some things good (cf. Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25); He made them very good (cf. Gen. 1:31). It is He who provided the sheep for the holocaust when there was none (cf. Gen. 22:7-8, 13), who made a path through the sea when the waters blocked the way (cf. Ex. 14:21-22; Ps. 77:19; Is. 43:16). It is He who gave His only Son to die so that we might live (cf. Jn. 3:16; Rom. 8:32; 1 Jn. 4:9).
And I can go on and on and on and on.
This is the night when an empty tomb becomes a door to the fullness of grace, when the past gives us a taste of the future in the present: Christ had risen that Easter morning, sometime in the past tense, and yet, we proclaim that He is risen, right here in the present tense, and He gives us all the reason to rejoice today because this preview is the promise of what He has in store for us who believe in Him. Because Christ is risen from the dead, Death no longer dictates the end. Christ’s resurrection brings us the joy of everlasting life: the life and joy that goes on and on and on and on.
This is the night that goes on and on and on and on, and it is only right that our celebration should go as long. It took a long time, all the way from the beginning of creation, to get to this point, and we who have received the new life of the Risen One at our Baptism (cf. Rom. 6:4-5, 8) still await His return in glory when He will take us to His high feast that knows no end.