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Holy Saturday | The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night

Lk 24:1-12

Imagine the memories haunting these women when they go to the tomb. They just lived Good Friday. Now they’re searching for the body of Jesus Christ, the friend they followed day after day, collecting so many memories. Two angels prompt the grieving women to enter back into a particular memory of their time with Jesus and other disciples in Galilee (Lk 9).

In the midst of feeding the hungry and healing the sick, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, be rejected and killed, and on the third day be raised” (Lk 9:22).

And, so it was.

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, and the other women stood with Jesus through every agonizing moment, wincing as thorns and nails pierced his skin, sobbing as he breathed his last. These women saw Jesus’ predictions come true: the Son of Man did undergo great suffering. He was rejected and killed But it didn’t end with death. The women chose to believe the past part of their friend’s testimony, too: that on the third day, the Son of Man would be raised.

But this belief didn’t come from a sensory memory like the others did. The women didn’t see or touch the risen Christ; in Luke’s gospel, Jesus doesn’t appear to the women post-resurrection. And their belief wasn’t the result of some rational argument, because dead people are supposed to stay dead!

The belief of these women could only come from their radical trust in the same God we exult tonight, the God who created the heavens, the earth, and everything in it; the God who calls all who are thirsty to come to the water; and the God who promises.

Our God makes the unbelievable happen. Our God transformed a tomb, a place of death and decay, into a womb, a place of possibility and new life!

At every committal over a grave, you hear your priests pray:

Lord Jesus Christ,
by your own three days in the tomb,
you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you
and so made the grave a sign of hope
that promises resurrection
even as it claims our mortal bodies.

The women, before they had proof, trusted in this promise of transformation. They believed Christ’s unbelievable testimony that he would rise from the dead. Then, they dared to share this Good News.

Luke writes, “The woman returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others…but their story seemed like nonsense.” The apostles didn’t believe the women’s memories. But they were convicted and didn’t just share their testimony once and pack it up! They kept speaking. They persisted. Standing on the shoulders of Anna, Mary, and Elizabeth, this group of women spoke the truth that Christians have professed for centuries ever since: Jesus Christ will be raised! Jesus Christ has been raised!

This is the night Christians all over the world make our holy buildings shake with joy as we remember our Savior’s words. Like the women at the tomb, we remember who Jesus was—the Teacher, the Healer, the Redeemer—and we remember who Jesus is today—still teaching, still healing, still redeeming through the hands and hearts of every baptized person called to remember Christ’s promise by the very witness of our lives.

And speaking of the baptized, we have one among us who wants what we have, wants to be baptized—and given the promise of eternal life!

A young girl of nine, who since the beginning of Lent, has stolen the hearts of our parishioners: Keira Chadwick. She has demonstrated remarkable maturity, given her years, and has been able to articulate what she has experienced in a mystical way, since she began her journey as a catechumen.

Taking the Confirmation name, Mary, after Jesus’ mother, she very recently bore her soul two nights ago on Holy Thursday, already loving with a mother’s heart. Michele, our coordinator of faith formation, made an instant connection with Keira. The first time they met, Michele was getting out of her car, and Keira told her mom, “She’s just so pretty.”

Michele pre-warned me that she’s just naturally an emotional wreck on Holy Thursday (a favorite liturgy of hers) and the tears came. After the foot washing, Keira came back to her place, turned around and saw Michele’s tears. Without hesitation, Keira got up from her pew, went to Michele and hugged her. She came back to her place and asked for a tissue for her and handed it to her.

Keira, what you did for Mrs. Baetzold on Holy Thursday is the discipleship the baptized are supposed to show to this broken world. There are adults who would never do what you did for her, but you already get it! You are a young Veronica who wiped the face of Jesus when he was hurting the most. Never lose that instinct to notice what people need and then help. That’s the foot-washing attitude we’re all supposed to have as the baptized.

And now, that you may be counted among those faithful women who trusted in our Lord and all that he promises, I invite you, with your godmother, to approach the altar and begin your participation in living the sacramental life of the Church.


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