Holy Saturday / Easter Vigil
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. (Psalm 118:17)
Tonight, we both await and celebrate the turning point in the history of mankind: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Why Jesus? Other people claimed to be the Messiah during that time. In fact, Josephus, a historian writing only a couple of decades after Jesus, reported that there were approximately fourteen different men who had made this claim! Some of these false messiahs were quite popular and had a large following.
So how did Jesus, a carpenter from Nazareth, win this title?
Jesus didn’t exhibit any of the signs that his contemporaries considered to be “reliable predictors of success,” like fame, fortune, or crowds of loyal followers. He was just a poor tradesman from a small Galilean town who spent three years traveling throughout Palestine and clashing with the religious authorities. He drew many crowds but had a very small group of followers—and many who did follow at first ended up abandoning him.
And yet this Jesus of Nazareth had two important characteristics that no one else had. First, and most obvious, he rose from the dead; and second, a core group of the disciples he formed remained faithful to him and continued his mission—even in the face of persecution and death.
These are compelling proofs, but the most convincing proof that Jesus is the Messiah lies in our hands. We are the evidence that Jesus is risen! Like his first disciples, we, too, have left our hiding places and spread the message of God’s love and mercy—even in the face of opposition and misunderstanding. Our existence, both as individuals and as a Church, confirms that Jesus truly is the Son of God and the Lord of creation.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. Before you get out of bed, remind yourself that you have a key role to play in the future of Jesus’ kingdom. Rejoice in the victory of his resurrection, and let the joy of this good news give you all the energy you need to fulfill your calling.
“Lord, help me to come out of my upper room and share your message of love. I want to be your spokesperson as you dictate new chapters in the history of your kingdom.”
(Psalm) Exodus 15:1-6, 17-18