April 11, 2020 – Easter Vigil Homily
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041120.cfm)
An Easter message by Fr. Glenn Tito Pascual, CSsR – Prefect of Students, Redemptorist Formation Community, Davao City.
I dread this night that I will preach before you the Easter message. I dread it because I do not know what to say to all of you about the joy, hope and the life that Easter brings. I am afraid that someone will ask,
“Is there joy about our situation? Is there still hope when more than a million across the world are sick because of covid-19? I am afraid if someone will say, what life awaits us when there are 4,428 confirmed cases and 247 death all over the Philippines as of tonight? When we second the highest number of cases in the ASEAN region, next to Malaysia, how long will this last? Until when shall we endure?”
These are the questions of many and the same questions that I also have. Honestly I do not know the answer that is why I dread this night to preach before you.
I tried to reflect and pray over and over again on the readings for today. It seems nothing inspired me. I caught myself still searching for an answer to the questions that I have and I share with others… “Until when Lord? Until when will this covid-19 last?”
I am very afraid Lord. We are afraid. I don’t know until when my courage can last, Lord. How long?
As I was struggling inside myself there was just nothingness, darkness, emptiness… no answer. I messaged our Community Superior and another brother in the community this morning. I told them “I cannot preach tonight. It seems I have no inspiration from God. What words to console God’s people when I myself feel that we are in darkness.”
Empty. Nothing. Darkness… then fear came.
I started to be afraid when questions came into my consciousness, “What if the lockdown continues, do we have enough food to eat? Or what if a relative, a friend a member of the family or me becomes sick of covid-19? What will happen to us?”
Again fear came to me. I struggled in my prayer until I glanced back at the Gospel and my eyes immediately caught sight of the words “DO NOT BE AFRAID”. When I read those words there was a seeming energy that moved me closer to read the Gospel again and the words “Do not be afraid” were repeated on the same text twice.
When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb, the angel greeted them “Do not be afraid!” The angel told them that Jesus is not in the tomb. Then the angel invited them to enter the empty tomb. The same words are also spoken to us by the angel today, “Do not be afraid!” Just as the angel invited Mary Magdalene to enter into the empty tomb, we too are invited today to enter into the seeming emptiness of our lives. We are invited to look into our questions of “how long Lord? Until when will this last?” We are invited to enter into the darkness of our fears of ‘what if someone I love is sick? What if I am the next to be sick?”
We are invited to see that we are only people passing by on this earth. We are invited that we are nothing. We came to this world with nothing and we will leave this world with nothing except for our faith in God. This is the beauty of this Easter Vigil celebration that we started with darkness. It was dark but it is only the light of Christ that can show us back to life. “Do not be afraid!”
The same words “Do not be afraid,” are repeated in the same gospel passage. When Mary Magdalene and the other woman were fearful but overjoyed they went back to tell others. On their way they met Jesus our Lord whose message to them again was “DO NOT BE AFRAID!” Then he added, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and see me.”
In a similar way Jesus gives the same consolation to all of us in the midst of our fears, “do not be afraid.” Although we are mortals, our life on this earth will end but it is the eternal life he promised that must propel us how to live a meaningful life.
Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers is also a command for all of us. It is a command that we need to share the life we receive in Christ. We share Christ when we take care of each other in this time of the pandemic. We tell others about Jesus when we don’t hoard our resources but to also share them to those in need. After all, even if we have gathered so much possessions for ourselves, we can’t carry them when we die. We tell others about the Easter message of life when we help each other by staying at home and keeping social distancing. We share the hope of Easter when we act as brothers and sisters to one another and not as master-slave, superior-inferior, rich-poor, or good-sinner. Do not be afraid!
Do not be afraid because Easter reminds us that God created the world and is recreating it anew. So let us ask the Spirit of God to give us the gift of courage, faith and hope in the midst of what is happening in our world.
In prayer we echo the song “Spirt of God, creation is groaning: Fill the earth, bring it to birth, and blow where you will. Blow, blow, blow till I be. But the breath of the Spirit blowing in me.” Amen.