Happy Easter! We feel happy and joyful just being present in the church this evening, yes?

By way of observation:

  1. The forty days of Lent ended as the Triduum began, therefore, our days of fast and abstinence, of penance and extra praying have been completed.
  2. The church looks beautiful with its Easter lilies and mums, with the statue of the Risen Lord, with the baptistery front and center where soon we will welcome new members this evening.
  3. We began this service in darkness and quite. The liturgy has moved us into a great light and soul-felt music. We lit the new fire, and proclaimed "Christ our light." In the Easter Proclamation and in the subsequent Scriptural readings, we listened to the continuous history of God's offering salvation to his people. The bells rang joyously as the choir led us in singing the Gloria.
  4. This Easter Vigil is a wonderful night: the holiest night, of the holiest week of the Church's liturgical year.

Look at the crucified Lord, and then at the resurrected Lord. Look at what has transpired. Apparent defeat has itself been defeated. Death has resulted in resurrected life. Jesus Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God has borne our sins, has suffered more than any of us could ever have imagined, and has died as an offering for our sins so that we now have been forgiven. We Christians rejoice in Jesus' resurrection. "Dying, he destroyed our death. Rising, he restored our life." After his resurrection Jesus remained on earth for another fifty days during which time, at least a half-dozen times his apostles, disciples, and countless other people saw him in his resurrected state.

For us: Feel the hope of future life. Anticipate eternal life. In the present moment, enjoy sharing in God's divine life.

I say, "feel the hope of eternal life." We really can't feel eternity in a tangible way. We feel it in faith. Tonight we read from the prophet Ezekiel that God would give his people a "new heart and a new spirit." That new heart and new spirit have been given in Jesus Christ, through his Church, to us.

We receive and can feel that Spirit through the sacraments of the Church which are presented in tangible ways. Every sacrament has "matter and form," i.e., a material expression and accompanying words. The material sign of baptism will be the pouring of the water. For Confirmation, the material sign of confirmation will be the imposition of hands. For Eucharist, bread and wine provide the material sign; these materials will be changed in substance into the Body and Blood of Christ. Tonight, receive this sharing in eternal life, reflect on its profound presence and limitless power within you, enjoy this gift, and manifest it in the ways we live with each other.

Jesus' resurrected life, and our participation in it, is what we celebrate tonight.

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley