Catholic Homily for Holy Saturday (Vigil Mass)
Theme: THE STONE WAS ROLLED AWAY…… “Jesus’ Resurrection and the Empty Tomb”
By: Fr. Jacques PHILIPPE
Homily for Saturday April 3 2021
Today, we do not consider any particular Gospel, inasmuch it is a day with no liturgy. But, with Mary, the only one who stayed firm in faith and hope after the tragic death of her Son, we shall prepare ourselves, in silence and in prayer, to celebrate the feast of our liberation in Christ, that is, the fulfillment of the Gospel.
The sequential coincidence of events between our Lord’s Death and Resurrection and the annual Jewish celebration of Passover, commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt, allows us to understand the feeling of liberation spread by the Cross of Jesus, new Paschal lamb whose blood preserves us from death.
Another less remarkable time coincidence, but, nevertheless, rich in meaning, refers to the weekly Jewish holiday of the “Sabbat”. It is observed from sundown on Friday, when the mothers in the family turn on the lights in every Jewish home, until dusk on Saturday. This is a reminder that after the work of creation, after having created the world out of nothing, the seventh day God rested. He wished man to rest also the seventh day, as thanksgiving of the beauty of the Creator’s work, and as a sign of the covenant of love between God and Israel. In the Jewish Sabbat liturgy God is invoked as the Israel spouse. The Sabbath is the day that encourages everyone to welcome the peace of God, His “Shalom”.
In this way, after the painful work of the Cross, «variation where man is forged again» according to Catherine of Siena’s own words, Jesus begins His rest at the very moment when the first lights of Sabbat are turned on: “It is finished” (Jn 19:30).
Now the work of the new creation has been completed: man, once prisoner of the oblivion of sin, becomes a new creature in Christ. A new covenant between God and mankind, that no one will ever shatter, has just been sealed. Henceforth, all infidelity may be washed in the blood and water that flow from the cross.
The letter to the Hebrews says: «there remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God» (Heb 4:9). Our faith in Christ gives us access to it. That He gives us our true rest, our deep peace, not for one day, but for life, and that it may be a total hope in God’s infinite mercy, according to the invitation of Psalm 16: «my flesh also dwells secure, for you will not abandon my soul to Sheol». That with a new heart we shall prepare ourselves to celebrate in joy the wedding of the Lamb and that we let us get fully married for the love of God in Christ.
Fr. Jacques PHILIPPE
(Cordes sur Ciel, France)