‘He has been raised; He is not here’

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The following is the text of the homily of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades during the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception April 3. 

This is a most sacred night, the most sacred night, in the history of humanity. It is the night in which our Lord Jesus Christ passed over from death to life. We are here in our cathedral to keep vigil, to remember Jesus’ Passover. We do so by listening to God’s word and celebrating His mysteries.

We listened to the Genesis account of God creating man, male and female, in His own image and likeness. We listened to the story of God saving His people from slavery in Egypt, enabling them to march on dry land through the midst of the sea. And we heard God’s invitation through the prophet Isaiah: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water!”

After the singing of the Gloria, with the joyful ringing of bells, a passage of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans was proclaimed. It contains a teaching that is particularly relevant for what is going to happen in the lives of four adults and one child at this Easter Vigil liturgy. St. Paul writes about Baptism, teaching us that in the sacrament of Baptism, we were baptized into Christ’s death, buried with Him, so that, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” On this sacred night of Christ’s resurrection, Brandon, Raymond, Morgan, Jason, and Kurtis will receive this new life in Christ. They will from this day forward be called “Christians.” As God freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh bringing them through the waters of the Red Sea, God will free them, as He has freed all of us who have been baptized. Baptism brings the ultimate freedom, freedom from the slavery of sin and the power of death, through our being incorporated into Christ and His Body the Church, giving us the power and grace to make it to the promised land of heaven.  

After Moses and the Israelites were delivered and saved at the Red Sea, what did they do? They sang! This is the first reference to singing in the Bible. Israel had been freed from slavery and became reborn as a people. We sang their song after the Exodus reading tonight: “I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.” This is our song too because, through God’s power, we have been drawn forth from the water, through Baptism, liberated from sin and reborn as children of God. 

Because of this, we sang a new song. We sang the Alleluia, giving praise and thanks to the Lord for our redemption from sin and death, rejoicing that Christ is risen from the dead.

In the Gospel, we heard the first announcement of the Resurrection. A young man, clothed in a white robe, an angel, sitting in the empty tomb, said to the three women who had come to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body: “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.” Th