After the somber events of Good Friday, the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection began on Holy Saturday night with the Easter Vigil, sometimes called “the mother of all vigils,” in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
Bishop Edward Malesic began the liturgy with the service of light. He blessed the fire, prepared and lit the paschal candle before the Easter proclamation was read.
The Liturgy of the Word included several readings, beginning with the story of creation.
During the Mass, two people were baptized, received their first Communion and were confirmed. A third person was confirmed and fully received into the Church.
The joyful tone continued during the Masses on Easter. Bishop Malesic celebrated the 8 a.m. liturgy in the cathedral. The Mass – like all Holy Week liturgies – was livestreamed on the diocesan website and can be viewed on demand.
In his homily, the bishop welcomed all – those attending in person and those watching the livestream.
“Jesus, who once was dead, has come back to us. This is no April Fool’s Day joke. He is risen. He is risen indeed. Happy Easter, everyone,” he said.
The bishop shared a story about a doctor who told a man his wife had died. The man and his family were grief-stricken. Soon after, a nurse discovered the woman had a pulse and alerted the doctor, who called to update the woman’s husband on her condition. The man was surprised and said his wife was dead. The embarrassed doctor said, “She’s seen a slight improvement.”
The bishop compared this to Jesus’ situation on Good Friday, when he died and his body was buried. But in the tomb on Easter morning, the bishop said Jesus’ heart started to beat, his lungs filled with air, his muscles moved and he stood up. “He folded his burial shroud, the stone rolled back and he walked into the word again, resurrected, alive and body glorified,” the bishop said.
“The resurrection of Jesus was more than a slight improvement. It was his victory over death,” he said, noting that not even death would keep Jesus from us because of his great love for us. “That’s a good thing for all of us who believe in resurrection,” he added.
“The only thing that will keep Jesus from us is our refusal to let him live in us. Today, we want to roll that stone away from our hearts and welcome the living Jesus into our lives. This powerful God of ours is a God of mercy and love.”
The Resurrection is also a prediction about our future, he said, noting that we don’t understand God’s plan for us. But, as St. Paul said, “Eye has not seen and ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love him.” The bishop said that one day, like Christ, we will rise from the dead. “Our condition will also be greatly improved, too, someday, he added.
But in order to come to this new, transformed life, we must follow in the footsteps of Christ. “He is the way, the truth and the life,” Bishop Malesic said.
During our lives, he said we must endure many “little deaths” or crosses in order to find life. “We must die to our possessions, we die to our sins, we must die to bad relationships and we must die to our grudges, our prejudices and our resentments. We must shed the old self in order to put on the new self, who is Christ himself.”
We must continue to walk with Jesus, the bishop said, even though walking forward sometimes can be scary. He also reminded the congregation that Jesus tells us not to be afraid.
“When we walk out of this church, we want people to see Christ in us and through us, the bishop said.
“Let us open our doors wide for him, live our lives for him and serve each other because of him. And let’s be thankful to God, because of Jesus come back from the dead, our condition is already much improved. He is risen. He is risen, indeed. And there is no putting him back in the grave again.”