These words were part of the Celtic Alleluia and part of the Easter Vigil. It was the first time we have spoken/sung the word alleluia since the commencement of Lent. I was amazed to hear the word cornerstone used so much over the Triduum. Jesus is our cornerstone and it is because of him that we live with faith, hope and love.
This week’s message will not be long for I thought I would share with you some of the words that struck me as I listened to the seven readings from the Hebrew Scriptures proclaimed during the Easter Vigil. I hope you find them as reflective as I have. There is a certain beauty in having the Cathedral as one’s parish church with great liturgy enhanced by its music.
First Reading Genesis 1:1-2:2
God created the heavens and the earth…. God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them……. and God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good.
Second Reading Genesis 22:1-18
Because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore.
Third Reading Exodus 14:15 – 15:1
Israel witnessed the great act, that the Lord had performed against the Egyptians, and the people venerated the Lord, they put their faith in the Lord and in Moses, his servant.
Fourth Reading Isaiah 54:5-14
But my love for you will never leave you and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken says the Lord who takes pity on you. …. You will be founded on integrity; remote from oppression, you will have nothing to fear; remote from terror, it will not approach you.
Fifth Reading Isaiah 55:1-11
Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near. Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him, to our God who is rich in forgiving, for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.
Sixth Reading Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4
Because you have forsaken the fountain of wisdom… Had you walked in the way of God, you would have lived in peace forever. Learn where knowledge is, where strength, where understanding, and so learn where length of days is, where life, where light of the eyes and where peace. But who has found out where she lives, who has entered her treasure house? But the One who knows all knows her……
Seventh Reading Ezekiel 36:16-28
I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you. I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you, and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances. You will live in the land which I gave your ancestors. You shall be my people and I will be your God.
Jesus is the fulfilment of this salvation history and it is the resurrected Christ who lives on in us. This mystery continues on, in us, through us and with us.
After we recite the Our Father during Mass each week the priest says the following words:
Lord Jesus Christ,
who said to your Apostles:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you,
look not on our sins,
but on the faith of your Church,
and graciously grant her peace and unity
in accordance with your will.
We are indeed meant to embody the prayers we say and the rituals we commemorate. And so I leave you with the words, spoken by Bishop Bill as he inserted the five grains of incense into the Paschal Candle in the form of a cross, while outside the Cathedral at the newly lit fire:
By his holy
and glorious wounds,
may Christ the Lord
and protect us. Amen
Followed by the lighting of the candle from the new fire, with these words:
May the light of Christ rising in glory
dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.
Anything I might have to say pales into insignificance compared with the mystery we have been part of during these past days and which we are invited to live daily.
I hope your Easter ceremonies have left you inspired to go forth and keep living the joy of the Gospel.