Holy Saturday / Easter Vigil – Readings
First Reading: Genesis 1: 1 – 2: 2 or 1: 1, 26-31a
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 104: 1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35 or Psalms 33: 4-5, 6-7, 12-13, 20 and 22
Second Reading: Genesis 22: 1-18 or 22: 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 16: 5, 8, 9-10, 11
Third Reading: Exodus 14: 15 – 15: 1
Responsorial Psalm: Exodus 15: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 17-18
Fourth Reading: Isaiah 54: 5-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 30: 2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13
Fifth Reading: Isaiah 55: 1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Isaiah 12: 2-3, 4, 5-6
Sixth Reading: Baruch 3: 9-15, 32 – 4: 4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 19: 8, 9, 10, 11
Seventh Reading: Ezekiel 36: 16-17a, 18-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 42: 3, 5; 43: 3, 4 or Isaiah 12: 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6 or Psalms 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
Epistle Reading: Romans 6: 3-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Gospel: Luke 24: 1-12
This Holy Saturday is the day of the Easter Triduum we take time to focus on the women who accompanied our Lady at all times. For them, as for us, it was the darkest hour. But in this situation the women did not remain paralyzed. They did not give into the dark forces of regret and remorse. They did not withdraw into pessimism. They did not flee from reality. They did something simple and extraordinary: in their homes they prepared perfume for the Body of Jesus. Today’s Reading reflection is offered by Jean de la Croix Nsabimana, SJ.
The statement: “He has risen” that we have heard from today’s gospel (Mt 28:1-8) makes our Christian life unique. What many had believed to be the end, turned out to be the beginning of eternity. Death did not hold captive Jesus forever. Jesus rose from the dead and His victory over death became the victory of all those who believe in Him. Jesus is not just our role model or exemplar to imitate but our Savior.
Today’s gospel mentions two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, who went to see the tomb. These women had experienced the goodness of the Lord Jesus and that pushed them to love Him even after His death. However, their hope was limited since they thought that Jesus was gone forever. Miraculously, the Angel of God brought to them the good news of the resurrection of the Lord. Soon after that, as they carried that good news with haste to the disciples, the Risen Lord Himself appeared to them and comforted them by saying to them: “Do not be afraid…”. The Risen Lord dispels our fears and gives us assurance of joyous life not only in this passing world but also in the next.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul puts it pertinently: “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. But now Christ has risen from the dead…” (15, 19-20a). On Holy Saturday, we celebrate the memorable night in which eternal life sprung out from death
Our Lord Jesus died once and rose from the dead and now He reigns for eternity. Our Risen Lord is at work at all times in our world, countries, communities, families, and individual lives. The commemoration of the resurrection of the Lord is an invitation for us to celebrate all that He has accomplished in our lives and to allow Him to use us for Him to continue His mission of giving life to the world, a life free of fears.
Most of the time, we lead a distracted life and so fail to recognize the presence of the Risen Lord in our lives. This Holy Saturday invites us to re-discover the Risen Lord who is at work in our daily life in us and in our world. This Easter should propel us to count our blessings and express our profound gratitude to the Risen Lord who freed us from different fears as entire humanity, as nations, communities, and individuals. For instance, we all know the fear of Covid-19 under which we had lived for more than two years. Some might be of the view that the remedy to the Covid-19 pandemic was given by science. Well! Even if that were the case, we should bear in our mind that science is one of the many languages used by God to re-create and revitalize the world. The Risen Lord, the author of every good thing, came to the rescue and thus we no longer live in fear of Covid-19. Those who believe and hope in the Risen Lord will never lack, on top of this passing world, they inherit eternal life.
Many places have been hit by wars, floods, cyclones, droughts, and other calamities. Many lives are seriously being threatened by the evils of diseases, and hopelessness. As Jesus used Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to bring the good news to the disciples, nowadays He wants to use you and I to bring healing, joy, and hope to the world, to our countries, communities, and families. One cannot keep silent after encountering the Risen Lord. The real experience of the Risen Lord brings us joy and hope and thereafter we spread the same joy and hope in the Risen Lord in the world around us.
May our Christian lives shine and be living signs which bear witness to the Risen Lord. May the voiceless, sick, afflicted, oppressed, and outcasts of our world, through our witness, come to know that there is life in our Risen Lord both now and forever.
By, Jean de la Croix Nsabimana, SJ.
Harare, Arrupe Jesuit University, April 08, 2023.