Easter Vigil April 19, 2014
Deacon Thomas Winninger, CSMA
Gn. 1:1, 26-31, Ex. 14:15, Matt. 28:1-10

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God said, "Let us make man in our image and likeness...God saw how good it was."

It is hard to imagine that there is something about us that is like God. Does God have a head? Does God have hands or feet? It is hard to imagine especially when we look at the imperfections of our bodies. Tall, short, little, big; it seems like only the media knows what is perfect and what they project is usually made up, it is not real. So what makes us in the image and likeness of God? In other words, what about us is Divine? (pause) Yes, it is our immortal souls. The Divine in each one of us is our soul. It is not a human part of us. Our soul is bigger than the human part of us. It's the door to the divine, the window to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It's that part of us that encounters Christ. It's that part of us to which God speaks.

We, like Jesus, are both human and divine. We are embodied spirits, our souls use our bodies to live our lives so that we attain eternal life.

The theme of these readings is renewal of the soul, the spirit. The theme is embodied in Psalm 104's petitions, "Lord, send out your spirit and renew the face of the earth!" All the images that are part of this liturgy, the flame (the bonfire), the lighting of all our candles, the baptism, the confirmations, the consecration of the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord are calls for renewal of our mind and spirit, our body and soul. This liturgy is about conversion, not the moment in time that we embrace Christ in our lives for the first time but all the moments that we seek to have an ever-deepening relationship with our Lord. The conversion we experience on this Easter Vigil calls us to 'becoming', becoming the person we were meant to be when God created us in his image and likeness. Becoming is a journey of moments; moments that contribute to our preparation for everlasting life.

As in Matthew's Gospel we rush to the tomb, why, because we are curious as to the reality of Christ, is he really God? Why, because we are worried about the soldiers stealing the body? Why, because we have nothing better to do than to take a run? No, we rush to the tomb because of a promise. A promise of freedom from death to life, Jesus told us so and he is our shepherd, he is our friend. He loved us to the end. He is a friend who loved us without judgment. He is a friend who forgives us for our failings. He is a friend that moved beyond our faults. He is a friend who was willing to save us by laying down his life. And now he will love us at the beginning of our journey. So we rush to that renewal.

So on this the Easter Vigil what are we called to do? We are called to renew our relationship with Christ. We are called to determine why we seek a relationship with Christ. Do we seek a relationship with him because we feel we have to, because it is the rule? Do we seek a relationship because we want something; we want him to give us something? Or do we seek a relationship because he is a true friend who is willing to die for us? Each of these is a different relationship. Which is yours?

Then we are called today to focus on the divine part of us and in that divine to open our souls to the reality of Christ in our life; for we do not communicate with Christ from our head but rather from our heart. It is in love that we embrace what we do not understand with our head. And finally, we are called through this renewal to seek a deeper level of conversion, a deeper level of transformation; seeking to become what Jesus meant us to be from the beginning, a person of faith who loves, gives, and forgives in the name of the Lord.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God said, "Let us make man in our image and likeness... God saw how good it was."