What is one of the first things most of us each morning? Well, after thanking God for bringing us through the night to the beginning of another day, the first thing most of us do is to turn on a light. Isn't that what happens at the beginning of the Easter Vigil Mass?
Yes, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the new Moses, has led us through the night to the beginning of an eternal day, the day of Resurrection, Easter. He is the Light of the world. That is why a fire is lit in the back of all Catholic churches the night before Easter morning. That is why an Easter Vigil candle will be lit in every sanctuary in every Catholic church that night--and will remain lit for the next fifty days. The Light Who is Jesus Christ wants us to understand that the Easter Vigil is the night that the powers of sin and death were destroyed forever. That is the night that is to give us hope in the midst of our darkest trial.
Each day is a re-creation of salvation history. We arise in the morning, symbolic of God's creation of the world at the beginning of time. We go about our business during the course of the day, symbolic of the "hidden years" Our Lord spent in Nazareth before He assumed His Public Ministry. We eat and drink to feed our bodies, symbolic of the nourishment we receive from the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. And we go to bed at night, symbolic of the fact that our bodies will one day be put to rest in the dust of the earth.
We go through this routine day in and day out. In fact, the routine can dull our senses, leaving us positively hopeless about the meaning of human existence. We can lose sight of the fact that there is a purpose to our lives, that we are being led by a column of fire to our true home, Heaven, through the midst of our desert journey here on the face of this earth. Just as our spiritual ancestors, the Hebrews, were guided in their desert journey by a column of fire to light their way, so are we being led by the fire, Jesus Christ, Whose burning love desires to illumine and warm our path on the rocky road that leads to the narrow gate of life.
Yes, we wake, work, eat and drink, sleep. But, please God it is His holy will for us to rise the next morning, we shall repeat the pattern all over again. This night, this holy night, reminds us that each morning is not only symbolic of the creation of the world; it is symbolic of humanity's re-creation on the Holy Cross. It is symbolic of the fact that our bodies will rise up incorrupt and glorious on the Last Day to be reunited with our souls if we cooperate with Our Lord's Easter victory that we anticipate this evening with rightful jubilation.
Death has no power over us because of this night. Death is nothing to fear. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a human being, not even a sudden death. The worst thing that can happen to a human being is to be found in a state of unforgiven mortal sin at one's death! Our Lord surrendered Himself to death on Good Friday to swallow up the power of death forever; but each person has to decide whether he or she will use the power of the Holy Cross to live in such a way so as to die a holy death. How will you use the power made available to you this holy night?
Yes, Jesus wants to lead us through the night of life with His eternal light. He cannot force us to follow Him. He always told His listeners, "If you want eternal life, then take up your cross and follow Me." He wants us to open the eyes of our souls after death to gaze on Him in much the same manner as we wake from a bad dream. You can reassure yourself after a bad dream that it was, after all, only a dream; well, Jesus wants to assure you that us this life is merely a preparation for Paradise.
Our Lady, given to us by Our Lord to be our Mother as she stood by His Holy Cross, made possible the night of the Easter Vigil. Her "yes" to the Father at the Annunciation untied the gates of Heaven, which had been tied shut by the knot of Eve's prideful disobedience. Those gates were opened wide that very night by her Divine Son as He led the souls of the just, who had been waiting for His arrival, to Heaven. Those gates were opened wide that very night for each one of us.
The price of admission through those Gates has been paid by the shedding of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood. He wants each one of us to rise from our tombs as He did this very night. But we can only avail ourself of admission if, signed by the Blood of the Passover Lamb Who is Jesus, we follow the column of the cloud of fire which Jesus wants to ignite anew each day in the life of each person through the Church born of the Blood and Water which poured forth from His Wounded Side.
We prepare for the Easter Vigil by sacrificing for forty days. We will celebrate because of that night for fifty days. We celebrate for ten more days than we sacrifice because Easter is to last for all eternity; our life of toil here is very short in comparison with that!
Alleluia! Jesus is Risen! He wants us to rise each day to be an Alleluia people who are willing to bear witness to His Resurrection as faithful sons and daughters of His Holy Church.