Here are some links to the Scriptures for the Easter Vigil:
Holy Saturday Vigil Gospel
Easter Sunday Readings
1. Jesus has been raised. He is not here (Mark 16:6). Every year, Father Marcus and I bury many people. You yourselves may have also buried an acquaintance or loved one. People of different cultures have different manners of celebrating funerals, but there is one constant. That is, when the person dies, that is what they are- dead. And when they are buried with whatever rituals in Church or in our families, they are buried. When we return according to our customs to visit the grave, we do not expect to see it torn open and the body missing. If we did, it would cause us great stress. And if we returned to the tomb to find it empty and a young man dressed in the whitest of clothes we have ever seen telling us our loved one was risen, that He was not here, we would go in shock I suppose.
2. Imagine the disciples’ shock. Already they were dealing with the grief of Jesus’ brutally violent death. And now the tomb is empty and they are told that He is risen. Jesus had told them that He would rise from the dead, but they had no idea what that really meant. No one had ever risen before, not like this. Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, maybe that experience prepared them somewhat.
3. Several years ago I was in Mexico taking Spanish lessons. One of my classmates was a young woman from Japan. She had heard of Jesus’ name, but knew nothing about Him. As I was telling her His story, when I got to the part that Jesus rose from the dead to a new kind of life, her eyes glazed over and she went into a kind of shock. It was then that I realized how incredibly amazing Jesus’ Resurrection really was. All my life long I have professed His resurrection. But now I had to think about it. Jesus was indeed dead. And now He is indeed alive. I do not know what the young woman thought about what I said. To be honest, I became somewhat engrossed in my own reflection on the Mystery of the Resurrection. Did she believe me? Who knows? But what is important is that it is the Truth. Jesus has Risen. Yes He has truly Risen!
4. Hundreds of His disciples were witnesses to His new kind of life. As Saint Peter said in the book of Acts, they ate and drank with Jesus after the Resurrection. They did not imagine it. They did not plot to all agree to say it. They were all just as shocked as everyone. But you do not eat and drink with a ghost or figment of your imagination. The disciples were afraid at first, but as time progressed, they did not waver in their proclamation of Jesus Christ Crucified and Risen. Their faith became more and more sure, their knowledge became more profound, their trust became unshakeable to the point that they would willingly die rather than deny the truth they knew that Jesus had risen.
5. The resurrection of Our Lord is His greatest miracle. It is the conclusive proof of His Divinity. But the resurrection is more than that. The resurrection is the conquering of death. All funeral practices have sorrow attached, even a certain degree of despair that we will never see our loved ones again. But the Resurrection of Jesus is a glimmer of hope. And the more we believe and trust, the more hopeful we become. Death has been defeated. And if Jesus has risen from the dead, there is hope for every one of us too.
6. Gone is the thought of going down into the shades, where death is the master. We know that Jesus is the Master and death must obey Him. Death is the ultimate consequence of sin, but with the resurrection, the hope of eternal reconciliation with one another and being right with God abounds.
7. Saint Peter proclaimed to all who could hear him that Jesus had chosen the disciples to be witness of Jesus Christ to the whole world. As Christians, we have inherited this mission - to go into the whole world and proclaim the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ (Matthew 29:19-20). It is not a mission only for the priest or deacon or member of a religious order. It is not a mission only for adults. Everyone who is baptized in His death and resurrection is called to share the Gospel.
8. The question is, how do we proclaim the Truth we know in our hearts? It is very simple really. Everything we have and everything we do for the love of Jesus. If our hearts are focused on the Crucified and Risen Savior, then even simply making the sign of the Cross before we say grace at meals will become a witness to the power of the Resurrection. Our prayer life will become rich. We will eagerly look for opportunities to share our faith in Jesus Christ with others. Even if others do not accept us or do wrong to us, forgiveness will become easy.
9. The tomb is empty, Jesus is not there. The Sorrow of Losing Him on the Cross has been replaced with the Joy of celebrating His Resurrection. As Christians we already share in the New Life that Jesus Christ established on the day of Easter. Jesus Christ is Risen!