Summary: "To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.” So great a Redeemer!
Credit for this sermon largely comes from Dynamic Preaching magazine!
1). Here's a line from the Exsultet, the powerful hymn of praise and thanksgiving that we just heard (at the Easter Vigil):
“This is the night, when Jesus broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.”
At a church in Bangladesh, the congregation was seeing a film about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus to an audience filled with people who had never heard of the gospel before. Children sat in front. The adults stood in the back. As the story of Jesus’ crucifixion unfolded, and his body laid in the tomb, there were tears and audible gasps. As the affected audience watched, one young boy suddenly spoke up. "Don’t be afraid,” he said. “He gets up again! I saw it before!"
2). Regarding another line from the Exsultet, I heard a lady say that it’s her personal favorite: "To ransom a slave, you gave away your Son." The lady added, “I always bring tissues [to the Easter Vigil]. It's impossible to sit through this Mass and be untouched by Him.”
The complete sentence goes: “Father, how wonderful your care for us! How boundless your merciful love! To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.”
The resurrection of Jesus marks the moment when we have to make a decision that we will choose to rise to eternal life with him and the blessed, and not choose by default or choice to experience the second death of eternal separation from God by unrepented mortal sin. O blessed are those, by repentance, can sing along with the Exsultet, “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
The reality is that Christ’s Resurrection affects the history of the world, backwards and forwards. Everything has changed, from creation and the garden of Eden to the Last Things and the new Jerusalem.
2). Another line from the Exsultet: “Accept this Easter candle,… Let it mingle with the lights of heaven and continue bravely burning to dispel the darkness of this night!
We learn from the Gospel on Easter Sunday that the three steps to Easter faith are starting with unbelief: Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark. Darkness is a symbol of unbelief in the Gospel of John. Then, Peter and John run to the empty tomb. Peter is wondering to himself what had happened which shows us that seeking is the second step. However, John sees and believes that Jesus is alive and rose physically from the grave. That is Easter Faith! It’s communicated from the testimonies of the New Testament, transmitted through the community, which becomes a living word when re-presented to us.
2. Lastly, a line of the Exsultet says: “The power of this holy night….brings mourners joy...”
Phil Callaway tells of driving his five-year old son past a local cemetery. Of course, five-year old’s sometimes have an interesting perspective on things. Noticing a large pile of dirt beside a newly excavated grave, the boy pointed and said, “Look, Dad, one got out!”
The resurrection marks the moment in history when hope overcame grief.
We are not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying.
We are in the land of the dying going to the land of the living.
That is what Easter is all about, which is the source of all hope. Rejoice! It’s Easter! He is risen – and we will rise too!
May, as the Exsultet says “the Morning Star which never sets find this flame still burning.” As our Second Reading from Colossians says on Easter Sunday:
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
“Hidden” evokes God’s mystery and wisdom manifested to baptized believers, but now believers are themselves a part of the mystery. This must be our focus of our thoughts as we struggle to lift our minds above the concerns of this world. The key is to remember that we have been buried with Christ in Baptism so that we may walk with him in newness of life.”
Jesus is so great a Redeemer!