“Exult, let them exult, the host of heaven! Exult, the Angel ministers of God. Exult, let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph! Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King. Let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness.”
This is the night like no other.
This is the celebration like none other in the Church.
This is the night when we proclaim our Sacred Scripture from beginning to new beginning.
“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth.”
This is the night when Holy Mother Church remembers God’s mighty deeds from beginning to new beginning.
It is as if we walk through the whole of salvation history this night.
From the creation of the world; to Abraham our father in faith; to the passing through the Red Sea dry shod; to the words of the prophet Isaiah reminding the people of God’s enduring love in the midst of their affliction; to the prophet Ezekiel who proclaims that God will replace our stony and sinful hearts with natural hearts of God’s making, filled with his spirit.
Then in response, we, the Church, burst forth in light and sound giving glory to God in the highest, acclaiming the song of the angels at the incarnation, the birth of the Messiah, the new creation.
Tonight’s readings are like a river flowing towards its final destination, the fulfillment of God’s promises, the new covenant in Christ Jesus.
St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans plunges us deep into that river of salvation history. He helps us to understand that when each of us were baptized, or will be baptize this night, we are brought into his glorious salvation history. We are made part of God’s own family and given the promise of a new life in Christ.
Our gospel from Luke brings us to the threshold of the new creation story.
“At daybreak, on the first day of the week.”
For Luke, this is a reference to the original creation of the world and implies that the resurrected life of Jesus initiates a new creation on this new first day.
In the resurrection, Jesus is no longer bound by time or space. Our Lord has opened the door to the eternal day that never ends. This symbolic first day, the eighth day is the first day of eternity.
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised.”
The women went looking for Jesus in the last place they had seen him. They were looking in the tomb, a place of death, but Christ is alive. His burial garments are left behind and the tomb is empty. These are remnants of the past and Jesus would never need them again because he will die no more.
“Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”
St. Paul, the eminent missionary disciple, once bound by his sin of pride and arrogance against Jesus, died with him and rose in him to new life. He never looked back to the tomb but only to the glory of the resurrection.
My sisters and brothers, tonight we are plunged a new into the sacred river of our salvation history. This is the night. We are not merely recalling past events. On the contrary, in our sacramental remembering, these events take place in our midst tonight, saving us and leading us.
Thus we proclaim over and over again in the Exultet that Deacon Rob proclaimed: “This is the night where we found freedom from slavery. This is the night that banished the darkness of sin. This is the night, that even now throughout the world, sets Christian believers apart from world devices and from the gloom of sin, leading them to grace and joining them to his holy ones.”
“This night should be as bright as day, dazzling is the night, and full of gladness. The sanctifying power of this night dispels all wickedness, washes faults away, the stores innocent to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.”
Holy Mother Church wants us to realize over and over again that “today”, “this night” is a day of our salvation, not yesterday or tomorrow. Today, this night the Scripture is being fulfilled in our midst.
This is the night. May this night fill our hearts with the light of Christ that will never be extinguished or overcome.
This is the night! Alleluia! Alleluia.