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Easter Vigil Readings & More!

April 3 - April 4

 

 

Resurrection of Christ

Marco Basaiti

1520
Oil on canvas, 140 x 100 cm
Accademia Carrara, Bergamo


Greek icon

 


Resurrection

Osios Loukas Monastery, Greece


Resurrection and Harrowing of Hades with post-Resurrection scenes

18th Century, Russia

 


USCCB.org/RNAB ^ | 04-11-20 | Revised New American Bible

Reading I Gn 1:1—2:2

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss,
while a mighty wind swept over the waters.Then God said,
“Let there be light,” and there was light.
God saw how good the light was.
God then separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”
Thus evening came, and morning followed—the first day.

Then God said,
“Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters,
to separate one body of water from the other.”
And so it happened:
God made the dome,
and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it.
God called the dome “the sky.”
Evening came, and morning followed—the second day.

Then God said,
“Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin,
so that the dry land may appear.”
And so it happened:
the water under the sky was gathered into its basin,
and the dry land appeared.
God called the dry land “the earth, ”
and the basin of the water he called “the sea.”
God saw how good it was.
Then God said,
“Let the earth bring forth vegetation:
every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth
that bears fruit with its seed in it.”
And so it happened:
the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth
that bears fruit with its seed in it.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed—the third day.

Then God said:
“Let there be lights in the dome of the sky,
to separate day from night.
Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years,
and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth.”
And so it happened:
God made the two great lights,
the greater one to govern the day,
and the lesser one to govern the night;
and he made the stars.
God set them in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth,
to govern the day and the night,
and to separate the light from the darkness.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day.

Then God said,
“Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures,
and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky.”
And so it happened:
God created the great sea monsters
and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems,
and all kinds of winged birds.
God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying,
“Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas;
and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
Evening came, and morning followed—the fifth day.

Then God said,
“Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures:
cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds.”
And so it happened:
God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle,
and all kinds of creeping things of the earth.
God saw how good it was.
Then God said:
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, and the cattle,
and over all the wild animals
and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”
God created man in his image;
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
“Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air,
and all the living things that move on the earth.”
God also said:
“See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;
and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air,
and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food.”
And so it happened.
God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.
Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed.
Since on the seventh day God was finished
with the work he had been doing,
he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.

Or Gn 1:1, 26-31a

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, and the cattle,
and over all the wild animals
and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”
God created man in his image;
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
“Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air,
and all the living things that move on the earth.”
God also said:
“See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;
and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air,
and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food.”
And so it happened.
God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35

R. (30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
You fixed the earth upon its foundation,
not to be moved forever;
with the ocean, as with a garment, you covered it;
above the mountains the waters stood.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
You send forth springs into the watercourses
that wind among the mountains.
Beside them the birds of heaven dwell;
from among the branches they send forth their song.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
You water the mountains from your palace;
the earth is replete with the fruit of your works.
You raise grass for the cattle,
and vegetation for man’s use,
Producing bread from the earth.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you have wrought them all—
the earth is full of your creatures.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

or Ps 33:4-5, 6-7, 12-13, 20 and 22

R. (5b) The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as in a flask;
in cellars he confines the deep.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

Reading II Gn 22:1-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am, ” he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the holocaust,
set out for the place of which God had told him.On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
Then he said to his servants:
“Both of you stay here with the donkey,
while the boy and I go on over yonder.
We will worship and then come back to you.”
Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the holocaust
and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,
while he himself carried the fire and the knife.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
“Father!” Isaac said.
“Yes, son, ” he replied.
Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood,
but where is the sheep for the holocaust?”
“Son,” Abraham answered,
“God himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust.”
Then the two continued going forward.

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, “On the mountain the LORD will see.”

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing–
all this because you obeyed my command.”

Or Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am, ” he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am, ” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy, ” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing–
all this because you obeyed my command.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11

R. (1) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Reading III Ex 14:15—15:1

The LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the Israelites to go forward.
And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two,
that the Israelites may pass through it on dry land.
But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate
that they will go in after them.
Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army,
his chariots and charioteers.
The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD,
when I receive glory through Pharaoh
and his chariots and charioteers.”

The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s camp,
now moved and went around behind them.
The column of cloud also, leaving the front,
took up its place behind them,
so that it came between the camp of the Egyptians
and that of Israel.
But the cloud now became dark, and thus the night passed
without the rival camps coming any closer together
all night long.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and the LORD swept the sea
with a strong east wind throughout the night
and so turned it into dry land.
When the water was thus divided,
the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.

The Egyptians followed in pursuit;
all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and charioteers went after them
right into the midst of the sea.
In the night watch just before dawn
the LORD cast through the column of the fiery cloud
upon the Egyptian force a glance that threw it into a panic;
and he so clogged their chariot wheels
that they could hardly drive.
With that the Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel,
because the LORD was fighting for them against the Egyptians.

Then the LORD told Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea,
that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians,
upon their chariots and their charioteers.”
So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth.
The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea,
when the LORD hurled them into its midst.
As the water flowed back,
it covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh’s whole army
which had followed the Israelites into the sea.
Not a single one of them escaped.
But the Israelites had marched on dry land
through the midst of the sea,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.
Thus the LORD saved Israel on that day
from the power of the Egyptians.
When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore
and beheld the great power that the LORD
had shown against the Egyptians,
they feared the LORD and believed in him and in his servant Moses.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:
I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

Responsorial Psalm Ex 15:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 17-18

R. (1b) Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
He is my God, I praise him;
the God of my father, I extol him.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
The LORD is a warrior,
LORD is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army he hurled into the sea;
the elite of his officers were submerged in the Red Sea.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
The flood waters covered them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O LORD, magnificent in power,
your right hand, O LORD, has shattered the enemy.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
You brought in the people you redeemed
and planted them on the mountain of your inheritance
the place where you made your seat, O LORD,
the sanctuary, LORD, which your hands established.
The LORD shall reign forever and ever.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

Reading IV Is 54:5-14

The One who has become your husband is your Maker;
his name is the LORD of hosts;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
called God of all the earth.
The LORD calls you back,
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
a wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.
In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
but with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the LORD, your redeemer.
This is for me like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah
should never again deluge the earth;
so I have sworn not to be angry with you,
or to rebuke you.
Though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be shaken,
my love shall never leave you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
O afflicted one, storm-battered and unconsoled,
I lay your pavements in carnelians,
and your foundations in sapphires;
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the LORD,
and great shall be the peace of your children.
In justice shall you be established,
far from the fear of oppression,
where destruction cannot come near you.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13

R. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the netherworld;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Reading V Is 55:1-11

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Responsorial Psalm Is 12:2-3, 4, 5-6

R. (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Reading VI Bar 3:9-15, 32–4:4

Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life:
listen, and know prudence!
How is it, Israel,
that you are in the land of your foes,
grown old in a foreign land,
defiled with the dead,
accounted with those destined for the netherworld?
You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom!
Had you walked in the way of God,
you would have dwelt in enduring peace.
Learn where prudence is,
where strength, where understanding;
that you may know also
where are length of days, and life,
where light of the eyes, and peace.
Who has found the place of wisdom,
who has entered into her treasuries?

The One who knows all things knows her;
he has probed her by his knowledge–
The One who established the earth for all time,
and filled it with four-footed beasts;
he who dismisses the light, and it departs,
calls it, and it obeys him trembling;
before whom the stars at their posts
shine and rejoice;
when he calls them, they answer, “Here we are!”
shining with joy for their Maker.
Such is our God;
no other is to be compared to him:
he has traced out the whole way of understanding,
and has given her to Jacob, his servant,
to Israel, his beloved son.

Since then she has appeared on earth,
and moved among people.
She is the book of the precepts of God,
the law that endures forever;
all who cling to her will live,
but those will die who forsake her.
Turn, O Jacob, and receive her:
walk by her light toward splendor.
Give not your glory to another,
your privileges to an alien race.
Blessed are we, O Israel;
for what pleases God is known to us!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. (John 6:68c) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

Reading VII Ez 36:16-17a, 18-28

The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their land,
they defiled it by their conduct and deeds.
Therefore I poured out my fury upon them
because of the blood that they poured out on the ground,
and because they defiled it with idols.
I scattered them among the nations,
dispersing them over foreign lands;
according to their conduct and deeds I judged them.
But when they came among the nations wherever they came,
they served to profane my holy name,
because it was said of them: “These are the people of the LORD,
yet they had to leave their land.”
So I have relented because of my holy name
which the house of Israel profaned
among the nations where they came.
Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD:
Not for your sakes do I act, house of Israel,
but for the sake of my holy name,
which you profaned among the nations to which you came.
I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations,
in whose midst you have profaned it.
Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD,
when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.
For I will take you away from among the nations,
gather you from all the foreign lands,
and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,
careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your fathers;
you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 42:3, 5; 43:3, 4

When baptism is celebrated.

R. (42:2) Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
I went with the throng
and led them in procession to the house of God,
Amid loud cries of joy and thanksgiving,
with the multitude keeping festival.
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.

Or Is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

When baptism is not celebrated.

R. (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

or Ps 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

When baptism is not celebrated

R. (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a holocaust, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Epistle Rom 6:3-11

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his,
we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
We know that our old self was crucified with him,
so that our sinful body might be done away with,
that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;
the right hand of the LORD is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.
R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
R. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 28:1-10

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
‘He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.’
Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”


The Creation Account


[1] In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. [2] The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.[3] And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. [4] And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. [5] God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

[6] And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” [7] And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. [8] And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

[9] And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. [10] God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. [11] And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. [12] The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees hearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. [13] And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

[14] And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, [15] and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. [16] And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. [17] And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, [18] to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. [19] And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

[20] And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” [21] So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. [22] And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” [23] And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

[24] And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. [25] And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

[26] Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” [27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. [28] And God blessed them, and God said to them.,”Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” [29] And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. [30] And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. [31] And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

[1] Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. [2] And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. [3] So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.

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Commentary:

1:1-2:4a. Creation is the beginning of salvation history and the foundation on which are built God’s salvific plans, which reach their climax in Jesus Christ. The biblical accounts of creation focus on the action of God; it is he who sets the scene and he is the creator, too, of those who will act out the drama and with whom he will enter into dialogue.

The sacred text incorporates ancient traditions about the origin of the world; scholars identify two separate accounts in the early chapters of Genesis. The first of these emphasizes God’s transcendence over all created things, and is written in a very schematic style; this account (1:1-2:4a) is attributed to the “Priestly” tradition. The second, which also covers the fall and the expulsion from paradise, speaks of God in an anthropomorphic way; this more vivid, more popular account (2:4b-4:26) is considered to belong to the “Yahwistic” tradition. Here we have two different ways in which the Word of God (not intending to provide a scientific explanation of the origin of the world and of man) expounds the basic facts and truths on the subject in a way people can readily understand, inviting us to see me greatness and love of God manifested first in creation and then in the history of mankind. “Our faith teaches us,” St. Josemaria Escriva writes, “that all creation, the movement of the earth and the other heavenly bodies, the good actions of creatures and all the good that has been achieved in history, in short everything, comes from God and directed toward him” (”Christ Is Passing By”, 130).

In the first account the Bible offers profound teaching about God, about man and about the world. About God, who is the only God, creator of all things and man in particular; he transcends the created world and is its supreme master. About man, who is the image and likeness of God, above all other created beings and placed in the world to rule all creation. About the world, which is something good and is at the service of man.

1.1. “Three things are affirmed in these first words of Scripture: the eternal God gave a beginning to all that exists outside of himself; he alone is Creator (the verb ‘create’—Hebrew “bara”—always has God for its subject). The totality of what exists (expressed by the formula ‘the heavens and the earth’) depends on the One who gives it being” (”Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 290).

“In the beginning” means that creation marks the start of time and the course of history. Time and history have a beginning and they are headed towards a final goal, which the Bible will tell us more about, especially in its last book, Revelation. At the end, we are told: ‘Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more” (Rev 21:1).

God the Creator is the same God as will manifest himself to the patriarchs, to Moses and to the prophets and make himself known to as through Jesus Christ. In the light of the New Testament we know that God created all things through his eternal Word, his beloved Son (cf. Jn 1:1; Col 1:16-17). God the Creator is Father and Son and (the relationship of love between them) the Holy Spirit. Creation is the work of the Blessed Trinity, and all of creation (particularly man, created in the image and likeness of God) in some way bears their seal. Some Fathers of the Church (Augustine, Ambrose and Basil, for example), in the light of the New Testament, saw the words “in the beginning” as having a deeper meaning—namely, “in the Son”.

The “action of creating” belongs exclusively to God; man cannot create; he can only “change” or “develop” something that already exists. In the creation accounts of other Near East religions the world and gods developed out of preexistent matter. The Bible, however, records gradual revelation of the mystery of creation interpreted in the light of God’s choice of Israel and his covenant with mankind; it roundly asserts that everything was made by God. Later on it will draw the conclusion that everything was created out of’ nothing: “I beseech you, my child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see everything that is in them, and to recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed” (2 Mac 7:28). This creative power of God is also able to give sinful man a pure heart (cf. Ps 51:12), to restore the dead to life and to give the light of faith to those who do not know him (cf. 2 Cor 4:6).

It was God’s love and wisdom that moved him to create the world, thereby communicating his goodness and making his glory manifest. The world, therefore, “is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind, fate or chance. We believe that it proceeds from God’s free will; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, wisdom and goodness” (”Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 295).

The expression “the heavens and the earth” means everything that exists. Theearth is the world of men; the sky (or the heavens) can mean the firmament or the divine world, God’s own “place”, his glory and all spiritual (non-material) creatures—the angels.

1:2. The Bible teaches not just that God created all things, but also that the separation and ordering of the elements of nature is something established by God once and for all. The presence of the loving power of God, symbolized by a gentle breeze or a breath (the text refers to it as a spirit; “ruah” in Hebrew) which hovers and keeps watch over the world when it is still in chaos, shows that, as the text will go on to say, the Word of God and his Breath are present in the origin of being and in the origin of every creature’s life. That is why many Fathers of the Church (Jerome and Athanasaus, for example) saw this passage as reflecting the presence of the Holy Spirit as a divine Person who, along with the Father and the Son, is at work in the creation of the world, “This biblical concept of creation”, John Paul II explains, “includes not only the call to existence of the very being of the cosmos, that is to say, “the giving of existence”, but also the presence of the Spirit of God in creation, that is to say, the beginning of “first of all concerning man”, who has been created in the image and likeness of God” (”Dominum Et Vivificantem”, 12).

1:3-5. At this point strictly speaking begins the description of the creation, which, according to the literary plan of this account, is going to take place over six days. These six days are meant to indicate the orderliness with which God went about his work, and to show a rhythm of work and rest: the Jewish Law laid down Saturday, the Sabbath, as a day of rest and a day dedicated to the Lord. In the Christian Church this day was shifted to Sunday, because Sunday was the day on which our Lord rose from the dead, thereby inaugurating the new Creation: Sunday, the “dies dominica” (Latin), the Lord’s day.

On the first day God creates light and separates light from darkness (the latter, being something negative—the absence of light—cannot be created). Light is seen here as being a thing in its own right (without reference to the fact that daylight comes from the sun, which will not be created until the fourth day). The fact that God puts names on things (or in this case on situations caused by some elements being separated from others) indicates that he wields absolute power over them. God is in authority, whether it be day or night.

Here we meet for the first time a phrase which is going to be used seven times over the course of the narrative: “And God saw that it was good.” This means that everything that God creates is good because in some way it bears his seal and shares in his own goodness, for it has come from divine goodness. The goodness of the world proclaimed here by Holy Scripture has important consequences for the Christian: “We must love the world and work and all human things. For the world is good. Adam’s sin destroyed the divine balance of creation; but God the Father sent his only Son to re-establish peace, so that we, his children by adoption, might free creation from disorder and reconcile all things to God” ([St] Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 112).

1:6-8. In line with the culture of their time, the early Hebrews thought that rain came from huge containers of water in the vault of heaven; when trapdoors were opened, the rain poured down. When it says here that God separated the water which were above the firmament from those below, what is really being taught is that God imposed order on the natural world and is responsible for the phenomenon of rain. It is also making it clear from the outset that the firmament must not be thought to involve any divinity (as was believed in the nations roundabout Israel); the firmament is part of the created world.

1:11. As the inspired author depicts here, a distinction is made between God’s action in separating and ordering the elements (creating the vast spaces of sky, sea and land) and his action of filling or adorning these spaces with different kinds of creatures. These creatures introduced in an increasing order of dignity (in line with the thinking of the time)—first the vegetable kingdom, then the stellar kingdom, and, lastly, the animal kingdom. Everything is perfectly arranged; the world of Creation invites to contemplate the Creator.

1:14-17. Against the neighboring religions, which regarded the heavenly bodies as divinities exerting influence over human life, the biblical author, enlightened by inspiration, teaches that the sun, moon and stars are simply created things; their purpose is to serve man by giving him light by day and night, and to be a way of measuring time. Put in their proper, natural place heavenly bodies (like all the rest of creation) lead man to appreciate the greatness of God, and to praise him for his awesome works: “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork…” (Ps 19:1; cf. Ps 104). It follows that all forms of divination are to be rejected—consulting horoscopes, astrology, clairvoyance etc. (cf. “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 2116).

1:26. The sacred text emphasizes the special significance of this moment: God seems to stop to reflect and plan every detail of his next creation—man. Ancient Jewish interpretation (followed also by some Christian writers) saw the use of the plural “Let us make…” as meaning that God deliberated with his heavenly court, that is, with the angels (implying that God had created them at the very start, when he “created the heavens and the earth”). But the use of the plural should rather be taken as reflecting the greatness and power of God. A considerable part of Christian tradition has seen the “Let us make” as reflecting the Holy Trinity, for New Testament revelation has made the Christian reader more aware of the unfathomable greatness of the divine mystery.

“Man” here has a collective meaning: every human being, by his or her very nature, is in the image and likeness of God. The human being is intelligible not by reference to other created beings in the universe but by reference to God. The likeness between God and man is not a physical one, for God has no body; it is a spiritual likeness, lying in the human being’s capacity for interiority. The Second Vatican Council teaches that man is not deceived when he regards himself as superior to bodily things and as more than just a speck of nature or a nameless unit in the city of man. For by his power to know himself in the depths of his being he rises above the whole universe of mere objects. When he is drawn to think about his real self, he turns to those deep recesses of his being where God who probes the heart (1 Kings 1.6:7; Jer 17:10) awaits him, and where he himself decides his own destiny in the sight of God. So when he recognizes in himself a spiritual and immortal soul, he is not being led astray by false imaginings that are due to merely physical or social causes. On the contrary, he grasps what is profoundly true in this matter” (”Gaudium Et Spes”, 14).

The fact that God creates man in own image and likeness “means not only rationality and freedom as constitutive properties of human nature, but also from the very beginning, the capacity of having a “personal relationship” with God as ‘I’ and ‘you’ and therefore the capacity “of having a covenant”, which will take place in God’s salvific communication with man” (John Paul 11, “Dominun Et Vivificantem”, 34). In the light of this communication, brought about in all its fullness by Jesus Christ, the Fathers the Church read the words “image and likeness” as meaning, on the one hand man’s spiritual condition, and, on the other, his sharing in the divine nature through sanctifying grace. Even after the fall, man is still in the “image” of God; through sin, however, he lost his “likeness” but this was restored through Christ’s redemption.

It is part of God’s design that human beings should have dominion over other created things (represented here by the animals). This dominion makes man God’s representative (everything really belongs to God) in the created world. Therefore, although man is going to be the lord of creation, he needs to recognize that God alone is the Creator; man has to respect and look after creation; he is responsible for it.

These words of Scripture show that “man is the only creature that God has loved for itself alone, because all others were created to be at the service of man. Here we can see, too, the basic equality of all human beings. For the Church, this equality, which has its roots in man’s very being, takes on the very special dimension of brotherhood through the Incarnation of the Son of God. […] Therefore, discrimination of any type […] is absolutely unacceptable” (John Paul II, Address, 7 July 1984).

1:27. The creation of man marks the completion of God’s plan, In presenting this final act of creation, the sacred writer offers us a summary of the things that go to make up the human being. As, well as repeating that God created man in his image and likeness, he tells us that God created them man and woman, that is to say, corporeal beings, endowed with sexuality, and designed to live in society. “Being in the image of God, the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead” (”Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 357).

“The fact that man ‘created as man and woman’ is the image of God means not only that each of them individually is like God, as a rational and free being. It also means that man and woman, created as a ‘unity of the two’ in their common humanity, are called to live in a communion of love, and in this way to mirror in the world the communion of love that is in God, through which the Three Persons love each other in the intimate mystery of the one divine life. This ‘unity of the two’, which is a sign of interpersonal communion, “shows that the creation of man” is also marked by a certain likeness to the divine communion (”communio”) This likeness is a quality of the personal being of both man and woman, and is also a call and a task” (John Paul II, “Mulieris Dignitatem”, 7).

The fact that the Bible and everyday language speak of God as masculine is a result of cultural influences and the great care taken in the Bible to avoid any hint of polytheism (which could arise if the godhead were described as feminine, opening the way to generations of gods, as in other religions). God transcends the body and sexuality; therefore, both man (masc.) and woman (fem.) equally reflect his image and likeness. In these words of Genesis, for the very first time in history, the fundamental equality in dignity of man and woman is proclaimed—in marked contrast with the low esteem in which women were held in the ancient world.

According to the traditional Jewish and Christian interpretation, this verse is alluding to marriage, as if God had already created the first man and the first woman as a married couple—forming that human community which is the basis of every society. In the second Genesis account of the creation of man and woman (cf. 2:18-24), this will emerge even more clearly.

1:28. God has already created animals, endowing them with fruitfulness (v. 22). He now addresses these two human beings personally: “he said to them…”; this indicates that the reproductive power of human beings (and therefore their sexuality) are values for which they must assume responsibility before God, as a way of co-operating in God’s plans. Thus, God, “wishing to associate them in a special way with his own creative work, blessed man and woman with the words: ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen 1:28). Without intending to underestimate the other ends of marriage, it must be said that true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it is directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day” (Vatican II, “Gaudium Et Spes”, 50).

God also commands man to make the earth serve him. Here divine Revelation is teaching us that human work is regarded as a way by which main operates in the plan God had when he created the world: “By the work of his hands and with the aid of technical means man tills the earth to bring fruit and to make it a dwelling place for all mankind; he, also consciously plays his part in the life of social groups; in so doing he is realizing the design, which God revealed at the beginning of time, to subdue the earth and perfect the work of creation, and at the same time he is improving his own person” (Vatican II, “Gaudium Et Spes”, 57).

From this divine disposition we see the importance a person’s work has in his or her personal life: “Your human vocation is a part—and an important part—of your divine vocation. That reason why you must strive for holiness, giving a particular character to your human personality, a style to your life; contributing at the same time to the sanctification of others, your fellow men; sanctifying your work and your environment: the profession or job that fills day, your home and family and the country where you were born and which you love […]. Work, all work, bears witness to the dignity of man, to his dominion over creation. It is an opportunity to develop one’s personality. It is a bond of union with others, the way to support one’s family, a means of aiding the improvement of the society in which we live and in the progress of all mankind” (”Christ Is Passing By”, 46-47).

Man is charged by God with mastery over the earth; but he may not do whatever he likes with it or act despotically: he should respect the universe as being the work of the Creator. In this regard, Wisdom 9:3 says: “0 God, […] who hast formed man, to have dominion over the creatures thou hast made, and rule the world in holiness and righteousness, and pronounce judgment in uprightness of soul.” “This holds good also for out daily work. When men and women provide for themselves and their families in such a way as to be of service to the community as well, they can rightly look upon their work as a prolongation of the work of the creator, a service to their fellow men, and their personal contribution to the fulfillment in history of the divine plan” (Vatican II, “Gaudium Et Spes”, 34).

1:31. These words bring to an end this first description of the work of Creation. It is as if God, after making man, stood back to see what he had done and was very pleased with the result. Whereas the wording previously used was “And God saw that it was good,” now we are told that it was “very good”. In this way, the goodness of the created world is being stressed, indicating that “this natural goodness of theirs receives an added dignity from their relation with the human person, for whose use they have been created” (Vatican II, “Apostolicam Actuositatem”, 7). From this it follows that the human person and his/her dignity must be valued above all other created things, and all human endeavor should be geared to foster and defend these values.

2:1-3. From this point onwards, God will almost never intervene in creation directly. Now it is up to man to act in the created world through the work he does.

God’s “resting” sets an example for man. By resting, we are acknowledging that creation in the last analysis depends on and belongs to God, and that God is watching over it. Here rest is an example set by the Creator; we shall later find it as one of the Ten Commandments (cf. Ex 20:8-18; Deut 5:42-14). “The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social and religious lives” (”Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 2184; cf. also John Paul II,
Apostolic Letter, “Dies Domini”, 31 May 1998).

Apropos of the sabbath, unlike the other days there is no mention of there being evening and morning. It is as if that rhythm of time were being broken by the sabbath—prefiguring the situation in which man, once he has accomplished his mission of mastering the earth, will enjoy an unending rest, at an eternal feast in God’s presence (cf. Heb 4:1-10). In the language of the Bible “feast” or “festival” means three things—a) obligatory rest from everyday work; b) recognition of God as Lord of creation, and joyful contemplation


From: Genesis 22:1b-19

The Sacrifice of Isaac and the Renewal of the Promise


[1b] God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” [2] He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” [3] So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, an arose and went to the place of which God had told him. [4] 0n the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. [5] Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the ass; and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” [6] And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. [7] And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” [8] Abraham said, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.[9] When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. [10] Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. [11] But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” [12] He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” [13] And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. [14] So Abraham called the name of that place The Lord will provide; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

[15] And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, [16] and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, [17] I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, [18] and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.” [19] So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba.

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Commentary:

22:1-19. God has been true to his promise: he has given Abraham a son by Sarah. Now it is Abraham who should show his fidelity to God by being ready to sacrifice his son in recognition that the boy belongs to God. The divine command seems to be senseless: Abraham has already lost Ishmael, when he and Hagar were sent away; now he is being asked to sacrifice his remaining son. Disposing of his son, meant detaching himself even from the fulfillment of the promise which Isaac represented. In spite of all this, Abraham obeys.

‘”As a final stage in the purification of his faith, Abraham ‘who had received the promises’ (Heb 11:17) is asked to sacrifice the son God had given him. Abraham’s faith does hot weaken (’God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering’), for he ‘considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead’ (Heb 11:19). And so the father of believers is conformed to the likeness of the Father who will not spare his own son but will deliver him up for us all (cf. Rom 8:32). Prayer restores man to God’s likeness and enables him to share in the power of God’s love that saves the multitude (cf. Rom 4:16-21)” (”Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 2572).

By undergoing the test which God set, Abraham attains perfection (cf. Jas 2:2 1) and he is now in a position for God to reaffirm in a solemn way the promise he made previously (cf. Gen 12:3).

The sacrifice of Isaac has features which make it a figure of the redemptive sacrifice of Christ. Thus, there is father giving up his son; the son who renders himself to his father’s will; the tools of sacrifice such as the wood, the knife and the altar. The account reaches its climax by showing through Abraham’s obedience and Isaac’s non-resistance, God’s blessing will reach all the nations of the earth (cf. v. 18). So, it is not surprising that Jewish tradition should attribute a certain redemptive value to Isaac’s submissiveness, and that the Fathers should see this episode prefiguring the passion of Christ, only Son of the Father.

22:2. “The land of Moriah”: according to the Syrian version of Genesis this is “land of the Ammorites”. We do not in fact know where this place was, although in 2 Chronicles 3:1 it is identified the mountain on which the temple Jerusalem was built, to stress the holiness of that site.

22:12. God is satisfied just by Abraham’s sincere intention to do what he asked of him. It is as good as if he had actually done the deed. “The patriarch turned sacrificer of his son for the love of God; he stained his right hand with blood in intention and offered sacrifice. But owing to God’s loving kindness beyond telling he received his son back safe and sound and went off with him; the patriarch was commended for his intention and bedecked with a bright crown; he had engaged in the ultimate struggle and at every stage given evidence of his godly attitude” (”Homiliae in Genesim”, 48, 1).

Making an implicit comparison between Isaac and Jesus, St Paul sees in the death of Christ the culmination of God’s love; he writes: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?” (Rom 8:32).

If staying Abraham’s hand was really a sign of God’s love, an even greater one was really a sign of God’s love, an even greater one was the fact that he allowed Jesus to die as an expiatory sacrifice on behalf of all mankind. In that later sacrifice, because “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8), “the abyss of malice which sin opens wide has been bridged by his infinite charity. God did not abandon men. His plans foresaw that the sacrifices of the old law would be insufficient to repair our faults and reestablish the unity which had been lost. A man who was God would have to offer himself up” (St. J. Escriva”Christ is Passing By”, 95).

22: 13-14. Some Fathers see this ram as a prefigurement of Jesus Christ, insofar as, like Christ, the ram. was immolated in order to save man. In this sense, St Ambrose wrote: “Whom does the ram represent, if not him of whom it is written, ‘He has raised up a horn for his people’ (Ps 148:14)? […] Christ: It is He whom Abraham saw in that sacrifice; it was his passion he saw. Thus, our Lord himself says of Abraham: ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad’ (Jn 8:56). Therefore Scripture says: ‘Abraham called the name of that place ‘The Lord will provide,’ so that today one can say: the Lord appeared on the mount, that is, he appeared to Abraham revealing his future passion in his body, whereby he redeemed the world; and sharing, at the same time, the nature of his passion when he caused him to see the ram suspended by his horns. The thicket stands for the scaffold of the cross” (”De Abraham


The Egyptians in Pursuit


[5] When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharoah and his servants was changed toward people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” [6] So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him [7] and took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. [8] And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the people of Israel as they went forth defiantly. [9] The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-ha-hiroth, in front of
Baal-zephon.[10] When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them; and they were in great fear. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord; “and they said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, in bringing us out of Egypt? [12] Is not this what we said to you in Egypt. ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” [13] And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. [14] The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.”

Crossing the Red Sea


[15] The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. [16] Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go on dry ground through the sea. [17] And I will harden the heart of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horse men. [18] And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”***********************************************************************
Commentary:

14:10-14. The Egyptians get so close that the Israelites are terrified; this produces their first crisis of faith: the liberty they seek means giving up a quiet life in Egypt. Moses begins to reveal himself not just as a charismatic leader but as a mediator between the people and God. The words of v. 13 underlie the theological virtue of hope: God is the one who acts, man has to stand firm in faith; he has no reason to fear. As the Letter to the Hebrews teaches, Jesus is the model of faithfulness and hope: “Therefore […] let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:12)

14:17-18. The military language and the depiction of God as a warrior should cause no surprise: it is a daring anthropomorphism which shows that God is almighty and therefore can deliver the elect from any danger that threatens: “You, too, if you distance yourself from the Egyptians and flee far from the power of demons,” Origen comments, “will see what great helps will be provided to you each day and what great protection is available to you. All that is asked of you is that you stand firm in the faith and do not let yourself be terrified by either the Egyptian cavalry or the noise of their chariots” (”Homiliae in Exodum”, 5, 4).

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From: Exodus 14:21-15:1

Crossing the Red Sea


[21] Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. [22] And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. [23] The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. [24] And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily; and the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel; for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”
[26] Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” [27] So Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its wonted flow when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled into it, and the Lord routed the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. [28] The waters return and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the hosts of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not so much as one of them remained. [29] But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.[30] Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore. [31] And Israel saw the great work which the Lord did against the Egyptians, and the people feared the Lord; and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

Song of Victory


[1] Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song the Lord, saying, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”***********************************************************************
Commentary:

14:19-22. At the wonderful moment of the crossing of the sea, God, man and the forces of nature play the leading role. In the person of the angel of the Lord, God the person of the angel of the Lord, becomes more visible; he directs operations; he plays a direct part. Moses’ part consists in doing as the Lord commands; he is his vicar. The sons of Israel have no active part; they benefit from what happens. Even the forces of nature come into play: the pillar of cloud which marked the route by day now blocks the Egyptians’ way; night, the symbol of evil become, as in the Passover, the time God’s visitation; the warm west wind, always feared for its harmful effects, now proves a great help; and the waters of the sea, so often the symbol of the abyss and of evil, allow the victorious passage of the sons of Israel.

The prophets see this event as an instance of the creative power of God (cf. Is 43:1-3), and Christian writers comment along the same lines. Thus, Origen will say: “See the goodness of God the Creator: if you submit to his will and follow his Law, he will see to it that created things cooperate with you, against their own nature if necessary” (”Homiliae In Exodum”, 5,5).

The book of Wisdom turns the account of the crossing of the sea into a hymn of praise to the Lord who delivered Israel (cf. Wis 19:6-9), and St Paul sees the waters as a figure of baptismal water: “All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor 10:2).

14:31. The main effect the miraculous crossing of the sea had on the Israelites was the faith it gave them in the power of God and in the authority of Moses. This section of the account of the escape from Egypt ends as it began—that is, showing that the people’s faith (4:31) is now strengthened. So, too, Christian faith is strengthened when we do what God desires.: “Following Jesus on his way. You have understood what our Lord was asking from you and you have decided to accompany him on his way. You trying to walk in his footsteps, to clothe yourself in Christ’s clothing, to be Christ himself: well, your faith, your faith in the light our Lord is giving you, must both operative and full of sacrifice” ([St] J. Escriva, “Friends of God”, 198).

15:1-21. This victory anthem, along with that of Deborah (Judg 5), is one the oldest hymns of Israel. It probably goes as far back as the 13th century BC, long before the redactor of this be decided to include it as a colophon to Exodus account. It is called the “Song of Miriam” (v. 21) because, as we know from Ugarit poems of the period (13th-9th centuries BC) it was the practice to put at the end (not the start) the reason why the poem was written, the author’s name and the poem’s title (vv. 18-21). It is very likely that this canticle was recited in the liturgy and that the entire people said the response (vv, 1, 21) after each stanza was said or sung by the choir.

It is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving which the three stages of the deliverance of Israel are remembered—the prodigies of the Red Sea (vv. 4-10), the triumphal pilgrimage in the desert (vv. 4-16) and the taking possession of the land of Canaan (vv. 17-18).

In this poetic re-creation of these events the divine attributes are extolled one by one (might, military power, redemption, etc); they reflect the theological implications of exodus, wilderness and land: it is God who has done all these wondrous things; he has done them because he has chosen the people to be his very own; he himself requires that they respond by acknowledging him to be God, Lord of all, the only deliverer.

15:1-3. Victory over the Egyptians has revealed the glory arid might of God. Strength, power, salvation can be taken as meaning the same thing, for the sacred author does not regard the divine attributes as abstract qualities but as particular actions: only God could truly save the people.

“The Lord is a man of war”: this daring description indicates that this is a very ancient poem. Some translations, possibly because they thought it might be misunderstood, toned it down a little: the Samaritan Pentateuch has “powerful in combat” and the Septuagint “he who breaks through battles”. We in our Spanish version coincide with the RSV and the New Vulgate, retaining the blunt military imagery, which is very descriptive of the almighty power of God: “He is the Lord of the Universe […]. He is master of history, governing hearts and events in keeping with his will” (”Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 269).

“The Lord is his name”: literally, “his name is Yah”, using an abbreviation of Yahweh which may have been customary in more ancient times. It may well be that there is an echo of this name in the “Alleluia” of the Psalms.


From: Isaiah 55:1-9

Epilogue: Invitation to Partake of the Banquet of the Lord’s Covenant


[1] “Ho, every one who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
[2] Why do you spend your money for
that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does
not satisfy?
Hearken diligently to me, and eat
what is good,
and delight yourselves in fatness.
[3] lncline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting
covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
[4] Behold, I made him a witness to the
peoples,
a leader and commander for the
peoples.
[5] Behold, you shall call nations that
you know not,
and nations that knew you not shall
run to you,
because of the LORD your God,
and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

[6] “Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
[7] let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
[8] for my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
[9] For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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Commentary:

55:1-13. The invitation to the Covenant banquet acts as the epilogue to the second part of the book of Isaiah, and picks up on themes in chapter 40, which is its prologue. The two chapters help to give literary and thematic unity to this part of the book. The oracle in chapter 55 sums up in a way the teachings contained in the preceding chapters — the invitation to the Covenant banquet (vv. 1-3), reminiscent of that celebrated by Moses at Mount Sinai (Ex 24:5, 11); the renewal of the Covenant with David on Zion (vv. 4-5); the transcendence of God, who is unaffected by the sins of men (vv. 8-9); the power of the word of God (vv. 10-11); and, as a final synthesis, the promise of a new exodus, a sign of God’s everlasting salvation.

These oracles are a call for conversion, a call to take advantage of the salvific gifts so generously offered: “Come to the waters” (v. 1), “Come to me” (v. 3), “Seek the Lord” (v. 6), “Let the wicked forsake his way” (v. 7). Originally, it was a call to those exiled in Babylon to return to Jerusalem; but it is a call that is made at all times, to everyone. The reference to an everlasting Covenant, in keeping with promises made to David (cf. v. 3), can be read by Christians as an invitation to share in the new and eternal Covenant sealed with the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, a pledge of salvation for all mankind. In the Eucharist, the banquet of the New Testament, the words of the prophet come true in the complete sense in the words spoken by our Lord when he instituted that sacrament: “Take and eat” (cf. v. 1) the true bread of life, the very finest food, which money cannot buy (vv. 1-3). Therefore, the invitation extended by the prophet is a call to Christians to partake of the Blessed Eucharist. Paul VI, urging the faithful to
take part in the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, wrote: “How could we fail to take part in this encounter, to partake of the banquet that Christ has lovingly prepared for us? Our participation should be dignified and filled with joy. Christ, crucified and glorified, comes among his disciples to draw them all into the power of his resurrection. It is the pinnacle, here on earth, of the Covenant of love between God and his people: the sign and source of Christian joy, the preparation for the eternal banquet in heaven” (Gaudete in Domino, 322). Verses1-11, like 54:5-14, are read in the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, which celebrates Christ’s victory over sin and which invites the faithful to partake of the banquet of the Covenant sealed by his death and resurrection: “On the feasts of the Lord, when the faithful receive the Body of the Son, they proclaim to one another the Good News that the first fruits of life have been given, as when the angel said to Mary Magdalene, ‘Christ is risen!’ Now too are life and resurrection conferred on whoever receives Christ” (Fanqith, Brevarium iuxta ritum Ecclesiae Antiochenae Syrorum, in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1391).

55:6-9. The Israelites are called to conversion. In order to return to their homeland, they must return to God, must “seek” him (vv. 6-7). And the Lord, who allows himself to be found and who does not judge in the way that men do, is willing and able to grant forgiveness (vv. 8-9). In other words, the call to repentance is grounded on the goodness of God who “will abundantly pardon” (v. 7). Man, for his part, should grasp this opportunity that God offers him. So, the words in this passage are a constant encouragement to begin and begin again in the pursuit of virtue: “To be converted means to ask for forgiveness and to seek out the strength of God in the Sacrament of reconciliation, and thus begin again, advancing step by step every day, learning to overcome ourselves, to win the spiritual battles that we face, and to give of ourselves joyfully, ‘for God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Cor 9:7)” (John Paul II, Novo incipiente, 8 April 1979). And St Augustine, apropos of conversion, wrote: “Do not say: ‘Tomorrow, I will he converted; tomorrow, I will give thanks to God; and all my sins, today’s and yesterday’s, will be forgiven’. It is true that God promises forgiveness for your conversion; but He does not promise tomorrow for your delays” (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 144, 11).

The words of v. 8 are echoed by St Paul in Romans 11:33, and are a reminder to us of just how narrow-minded we can be and how we can fail even to imagine the great things that God has in store for us.


From: Isaiah 54:1-10

A Glorious New Jerusalem


[1] “Sing, 0 barren one, who did not bear break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in travail! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her that is married, says the Lord. [2] Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; hold not back, lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. [3] For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your descendants will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.[4] “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. [5] For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. [6] For the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. [7] For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. [8] In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.

[9] ”For this is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. [10] For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

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Commentary:

54:1-17. After the Song of the Servant, the sacred writer turns his attention again to Zion in a beautiful hymn celebrating the glory and restoration of Jerusalem. By inserting it immediately after the fourth song, he seems to indicate that this will be the first outcome of the servant’s work. This hymn is an oracle of consolation and hope after the humiliations of exile. The content of the fourth song was quite new not so this hymn it uses traditional Old Testament imagery—thebarren wife who becomes fruitful again (v. 1; cf. 1 Sam 2:5; Ps 113:9), the unfaithful and repudiated wife who is taken back (v.4; cf. Hos 1:16-22). Zion will have far more offspring than she had before the exile (v. 3). The Lord of hosts will be her Maker and her Husband (vv. 5-6). He forsook her for a short while (vv. 7-9) but now he will make a new Covenant with her, sealed with love (v. 10). He will rebuild Zion’s walls with precious stones, and peace will prevail (vv. 11-15). But the figure of Zion now accomodates not just the city’s
inhabitants: it comes to stand for the homeland of all the Lord’s servants.

As the poem develops, so does God’s tenderness towards his city and his people: the first stanza (vv. 1-3) sees the city as a woman who was once barren and now has many children: she is the new Sarah (Gen 16:1), the new Rachel (Gen 29:3 1), the new Hannah (1 Sam 1:2). This will be so, for so “says the Lord” (v. 1). The second stanza (vv. 4-6) stresses the titles of her husband— Maker, Lord of hosts, Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, etc; and it confirms this by a slight change in wording: “says your God” (v. 6). The third stanza (vv. 7-10) describes the husband’s tender affection: he forsook Israel “for a brief moment”, but his love is everlasting: as in the days of Noah she was disgraced for a while, but he has sworn to be angry no longer, and not to rebuke her. The oracular formula is now: “says the Lord, your Redeemer” (v. 8b) and “says the Lord who has compassion on you”(v. 10b), which is etymologically the equivalent of “who loves you tenderly”.

The second part of the poem consists of two oracles of restoration: the first (vv. 11-15) shows the city constructed with precious stones (”abanim” in Hebrew; v. 11) and full of sons (”banim”, in Hebrew) who will be docile to the Lord; the second part (vv. 16-17) confirms that God himself, mighty and just, guarantees the splendor and permanence of Zion.

A Christian reading sees the poem as explaining that the Church is the continuation and culmination of the ancient people of God, especially in its eschatological stage when tribulation will be a thing of the past: “The cry in scripture, ‘Sing, 0 barren one’, refers to us, because our Church was barren until children were born to it. ‘Break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in travail’: our singing is the prayers we should offer to God, without ceasing, without fail; those who live apart from God will fail. And Scripture adds ‘the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her that is married’, so that we will see how, though we seemed to have been abandoned by the Lord in the beginning, we are now more fruitful than ever, and more numerous even than the people who believed that God was their God alone” (Pseudo-Clement, “Epistula II Ad Corinthios”, 2).

Verses 11-12 will inspire the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem in Revelation 21:18-21. Verse 13 is applied to Jesus’ disciples in John 6:45 to indicate that God himself guarantees’ faith of believers in Jesus Christ.


From: Ezekiel 36:23-28

Restoration; return from exile


[23] And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations will know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. [24] For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.Inner renewal


[25] I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. [26] A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. [27] And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. [28] You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

36:16-39:29. In this second last section of the book, the prophet uses a series of metaphors to paint the scene of a restored Israel. The oracles have an eschatological dimension to them, particularly the latter ones (38:1-39:29).

Overall, what we are given here is a song celebrating hope; nothing is impossible to the Lord: he is able to renew Israel (36:16-38), by giving her a new heart and a new spirit (v. 25); he can make the people come back to life (37:1-14); and the unity between this new people and their Lord will he almost like the way things were in Eden (37:15-28) — so wonderful that it will astonish the nations (37:28). The final oracles (38:1-39:29) are a dramatic climax that convey an idea of the vicissitudes of the chosen people up to when their fortunes will be permanently restored. The empires seem to be those determining the course of events, but that is not the case: the Lord is always in control and, when the end comes, his victory will be so amazing that not only Israel but all other nations, too, will know that he truly is the Lord.

36:16-38. In these oracles, which continue the proclamation of Israel’s restoration-purification, we can see the core of Ezekiel’s teaching, namely, that the Lord, who is above all things, is the one who determines the election, punishment and restoration of his people. People have an obligation to accept the gifts that God offers; they must acknowledge that the Lord is sovereign and free, and render him due worship. This teaching can be seen in the announcement about restoration and a return to the promised land (vv. 16—24) and in the Lord’s promise of inner renewal (vv. 25-38).

“They defiled it by their ways” (v. 17): the people’s straying, their sins, defiled the promised land, the most precious of all the gifts God had given them. As Ezekiel explains it, their exile was a necessary punishment (v. 19), but it is also a condition for restoring to the land its lost honour.

“The holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations” (v. 22): when the pagan nations saw the Israelites being deported, they thought that the God of Israel had been defeated or, at least, that he had failed to protect his people. In this sense the exile caused the name of the Lord to he profaned among the nations. The return of the people to the promised land was a necessary part of their deliverance (v. 24). but it was also needed to vindicate the name of the Lord (v. 22). This “theology” of the Name of God carries over into the New Testament, where we find it as a petition in the Our Father (cf. Mt 6:9; Lk 11:2, and from there it becomes part of the whole Christian tradition. The Catechism of the Council of Trent has this to say about these verses of Ezekiel: “Many people judge the truth of religion and of its Author by the deeds and lives of Christians. Those who truly profess their faith and put it into practice in their lives carry out the most valuable apostolate, provoking in others the desire to glorify the name of the heavenly Father” (Roman Catechism, 4, 10, 9).

“You shall be clean[sed]” (v. 25): Ezekiel views the renewal of Israel from the perspective of divine worship — sprinkling with water and other purification rites being a sign of inner change. This passage can be read as an announcement of the effects of Baptism: “Baptism, by the power of God, remits and pardons all sin — the original sin that we inherited from our first parents, and all our peronal sins, no matter how grave and terrible they may seem to us, no matter how grave and terrible they were. This truth was foretold long ago by the prophet Ezekiel, through whom the Lord God spoke: I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses (Ezek 36:25)” (ibid., 2, 2, 42).

“A new heart” and “a new spirit” (v. 26): renewal affects a person’s disposition (heart) and motivation (spirit). The Israelites will have a completely new life-force: as a result, their conduct will be perfect (v. 27), the Covenant will never again be broken (v. 28), and the land, also cleansed of defilement, will he abundant in the fruit it yields (v. 30).

God’s patent initiative in repatriating and renewing Israel is a proof of his disinterested love for his people. Jesus makes this very clear, for example, in his discourse on the bread of life: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (Jn 6:44). “Our salvation flows from God’s initiative of love for us, because ‘he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins’ (Jn 4:10)’’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 620).


 

Baptism (Continuation)


[3] Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? [4] We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.[5] For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. [6] We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. [7] For He who has died is freed from sin. [8] But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. [9] For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. [10] The death He died He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. [11] So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

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Commentary:

1-11. The universal dominion of sin, which began with the sin of Adam, is not the only event to be reckoned with. When sin reached its full extent, the grace brought by Jesus Christ came in superabundance. Through Baptism this grace reaches each of us and frees us from the control of sin. When we receive this Sacrament we die: that is to say, our blameworthiness is destroyed, we renounce sin once and for all, and are born again into a new life.

“The Lord”, St. Ambrose tells the newly baptized, “who wanted His benefactions to endure, the serpent’s plans to be turned to naught, and the harm done to be put right, delivered a sentence to mankind: ‘You are dust, and to dust you shall return’ (Genesis 3:19), and made man subject to death […]. The remedy was given him: man would die and rise again […]. You ask me how? […] Pay attention. So that in this world too the devil’s snare would be broken, a rite was instituted whereby man would die, being alive, and rise again, being alive […].Through immersion in water the sentence is blotted out: ‘You are dust, and to dust you shall return’” (”De Sacramentis”, II, 6).

This passage of the epistle, which reveals the key truths concerning Baptism, also reminds us of the profound meaning of this rite which Christ established, its spiritual effects in Christians and its far-reaching effects with respect to the Christian life. Thus, we can
apply to Baptism what St. Thomas Aquinas says about all the sacraments: “Three aspects of sanctification may be considered—its very cause, which is Christ’s Passion; its form, which is grace and the virtues; and its ultimate end, which is eternal life. And all these are
signified by the sacraments. Consequently, a sacrament is a sign which is both a reminder of the past, that is, of the Passion of Christ, and an indication of what is effected in us by Christ’s Passion, and a foretelling and pledge of future glory” (”Summa Theologiae”, III, q. 60, a. 3).

In the specific case of Baptism, the various things which the Sacrament implies carry a special nuance—a new birth which presupposes a symbolic death. It reproduces in us not only the Passion, Death and burial of Christ, symbolized by immersion in water (verses 3-4, 6), but also new life, the life of grace which pours into the soul, enabling the person to share in the Resurrection of Christ (verses 4-5). This sharing in Christ’s Resurrection to immortal life is a kind of seed which will ultimately produce the glorious resurrection of our bodies.

The baptized person is, therefore, someone newly created, someone born into a new life, someone who has moved out of darkness into light. The white garment used at Baptism symbolizes innocence and grace; the burning candle, the light of Christ—two symbols the Church uses in the baptismal liturgy to signify what is happening.

Thus, in Baptism, God “removes every trace of sin, whether original or personal” (”The Rite of Baptism”, Introduction, 5) and also remits the penalties that these sins incur. On being baptized in the name of the Three Divine Persons, the Christian is shown God the Father’s love for him (a love he has not merited), is given a share in the Paschal Mystery of the Son, and to him is communicated new life in the Spirit (cf. “Instruction on Infant Baptism”, 20 October 1980, 9). Baptism, which is also described as “the door of the spiritual life”, unites a person to Christ and to the Church by means of grace, which makes us children of God and heirs to Heaven. Finally, in addition to the infused virtues and supernatural gifts, the person is given “the graces necessary to live in a Christian way, and on his soul is impressed the sacramental character which makes him a Christian for evermore” (”St. Pius X Catechism”, 250).

Baptism, which confers a “character”, that is, a kind of seal confirming our Christian calling, gives us a share in Christ’s priesthood and makes us capable of receiving the other sacraments.

4. It is easier to grasp the symbolism of burial and resurrection if one remembers that in earlier times, and particularly in the apostolic
period, Baptism was usually administered by immersion in water—in some cases by total immersion, up to three times, with one Person of the Blessed Trinity being invoked each time. “They asked you, ‘Do you believe in God the Father almighty?’ You said, ‘I believe’, and you were immersed, that is, you were buried. Again they asked you, ‘Do you believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and in His Cross?’ You said, ‘I believe’, and you were again immersed. This time you have been buried with Christ, and he who is buried with Christ rises with Christ. For a third time you were asked, ‘Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?’ You said, ‘I believe’, and for a third time you were immersed, so that by this three-fold confession you might be loosed of your many attachments to your past life” (St. Ambrose, “De Sacramentis”, II, 7).

Today Baptism is normally administered by pouring water over the head— a method also used in apostolic times and which gradually came into general use because it was found more convenient.

5. Just as the ingraft and the plant form a single thing and make a single principle of life, Christians by being grafted onto or
incorporated into Christ through Baptism form one single thing with Him and begin to draw on His divine life. We are also “united with Him in a death like His”: Christ suffered physical death; we, in Baptism, die spiritually to the life of sin. St. John Chrysostom explains this as follows: “Baptism is for us what the Cross and burial were for Christ; but with this difference: the Savior died physically, He was physically buried, whereas we ought to die spiritually. That is why the Apostle does not say we are ‘united with Him with His death’, but ‘in a death LIKE HIS’” (”Hom. on Rom.”, 10).

9-10. Jesus Christ chose to bear all the consequences of sin, even though He was sinless. His voluntary death on the Cross and His
glorious Resurrection broke the bonds of death, for Himself and for all His own. Death no longer shall have dominion: “[Christ died] that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). And as a consequence He won, for His own human nature and for us, a new life.

In all those who have been baptized these same events in Christ’s life are in some way reproduced. “Our past sins have been wiped out by the action of grace. Now, so as to stay dead to sin after Baptism, personal effort is called for, although God’s grace continues to be with us, providing us with great help” (Chrysostom, “Hom. on Rom.”, 11). This personal effort might be encapsulated in a resolution: “May we never die through sin; may our spiritual resurrection be eternal” ([St] J. Escriva, “Holy Rosary”, 1st Glorious Mystery).


Jesus Appears To The Women


[1] Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre. [2] And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from Heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. [3] His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. [4] And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. [5] But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. [6] He is not here; for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. [7] Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. Lo, I have told you.” [8] So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell His disciples. [9] And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Hail!” And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him. [10] Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee; and there they will see Me.”***********************************************************************
Commentary:

1-15. The resurrection of Jesus, which happened in the early hours of the Sunday morning, is a fact which all the evangelist state clearly and unequivocally. Some holy women discover to their surprise that the tomb is open. On entering the hall (cf. Mark 16:5-6), they see an angel who says to them, “He is not here; for He has risen, as He said.” The guards who were on duty when the angel rolled back the stone go to the city and report what has happened to the chief priests. These, because of the urgency of the matter, decide to bribe the guards; they give them a considerable sum of money on condition that they spread the word that His disciples came at night and stole the body of Jesus when they were asleep. “Wretched craftiness,” says St. Augustine, “do you give us witnesses who were asleep? It is you who are really asleep if this is the only kind of explanation you have to offer!” (”Ennarationes in Psalmos”, 63, 15). The Apostles, who a couple of days before fled in fear, will, now that they have seen Him and have eaten and drunk with Him, become tireless preachers of this great event: “This Jesus, they will say, “God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32).

Just as He foretold He would go up to Jerusalem and be delivered to the leaders of the Jews and put to death, He also prophesied that He would rise from the dead (Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34). By His resurrection He completes the sign He promised to give unbelievers to show His divinity (Matthew 12:40).

The resurrection of Christ is one of the basic dogmas of the Catholic faith. In fact, St. Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14); and, to prove his assertion that Christ rose, he tells us “that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me” (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). The creed states that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day (”Nicene Creed”), by His own power (Ninth Council of Toledo, “De Redemptione Creed”), by a true resurrection of the flesh (”Creed” of St. Leo IX), reuniting His soul with His body (Innocent III, “Eius Exemplo”), and that this fact of the resurrection is historically proven and provable (”Lamentabili”, 36).

“By the word `resurrection’ we are not merely to understand that Christ was raised from the dead…but that He rose by His own power and virtue, a singular prerogative peculiar to Him alone. Our Lord confirmed this by the divine testimony of His own mouth when He said: `I lay down My life, that I may take it again….I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again’ (John 10:17-18). To the Jews He also said, in corroboration of His doctrine” `Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up’ (John 2:19-20) […]. We sometimes, it is true, read in Scripture that He was raised by the Father (cf. Acts 2:24; Romans 8:11); but this refers to Him as man, just as those passages on the other hand, which say that He rose by His own power, related to Him as God” (”St. Pius V Catechism”, I, 6, 8).

Christ’s resurrection was not a return to His previous earthly existence; it was a “glorious” resurrection, that is to say, attaining the full development of human life—immortal, freed from all limitations of space and time. As a result of the resurrection, Christ’s body now shares in the glory which His soul had from the beginning. Here lies the unique nature of the historical fact of the resurrection. He could not be seen by anyone but only by those to whom He granted that grace, to enable them to be witnesses of this resurrection, and to enable others to believe in Him by accepting the testimony of the seers.

Christ’s resurrection was something necessary for the completion of the work of our Redemption. For, Jesus Christ through His death freed us from sins; but by His resurrection He restored us all that we had lost through sin and, moreover, opened for us the gates of eternal life (cf. Romans 4:25). Also, the fact that He rose from the dead by His own power is a definitive proof that He is the Son of God, and therefore His resurrection fully confirms our faith in His divinity.

The resurrection of Christ, as has been pointed out, is the most sublime truth of our faith. That is why St. Augustine exclaims: “It is no great thing to believe that Christ died; for this is something that is also believed by pagans and Jews and by all the wicked: everyone believes that He died. The Christians’ faith is in Christ’s resurrection; that is what we hold to be a great thing—to believe that He rose” (”Enarrationes in Psalmos”, 120).

The mystery of the Redemption wrought by Christ, which embraces His death and resurrection, is applied to every man and woman through Baptism and the other sacraments, by means of which the believer is as it were immersed in Christ and in His death, that is to say, in a mystical way he becomes part of Christ, he dies and rises with Christ: “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism unto death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

An ardent desire to seek the things of God and an interior taste for the things that are above (cf. Colossians 3:1-3) are signs of our resurrection with Christ.


Scripture readings from the Jerusalem Bible by Darton, Longman & Todd

Readings at Mass

Liturgical colour: White.
There is no Mass on Holy Saturday itself. Here are the readings for the evening Easter Vigil.


First reading Genesis 1:1-2:2 ©

God saw all that he had made, and indeed it was very good

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, and God’s spirit hovered over the water.
  God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light. God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness. God called light ‘day’, and darkness he called ‘night.’ Evening came and morning came: the first day.
  God said, ‘Let there be a vault in the waters to divide the waters in two.’ And so it was. God made the vault, and it divided the waters above the vault from the waters under the vault. God called the vault ‘heaven.’ Evening came and morning came: the second day.
  God said, ‘Let the waters under heaven come together into a single mass, and let dry land appear.’ And so it was. God called the dry land ‘earth’ and the mass of waters ‘seas’, and God saw that it was good.
  God said, ‘Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants, and fruit trees bearing fruit with their seed inside, on the earth.’ And so it was. The earth produced vegetation: plants bearing seed in their several kinds, and trees bearing fruit with their seed inside in their several kinds. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came: the third day.
  God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days and years. Let them be lights in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth.’ And so it was. God made the two great lights: the greater light to govern the day, the smaller light to govern the night, and the stars. God set them in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth, to govern the day and the night and to divide light from darkness. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came: the fourth day.
  God said, ‘Let the waters teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth within the vault of heaven.’ And so it was. God created great sea-serpents and every kind of living creature with which the waters teem, and every kind of winged creature. God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas; and let the birds multiply upon the earth.’ Evening came and morning came: the fifth day.
  God said, ‘Let the earth produce every kind of living creature: cattle, reptiles, and every kind of wild beast.’ And so it was. God made every kind of wild beast, every kind of cattle, and every kind of land reptile. God saw that it was good.
  God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth.’
God created man in the image of himself,
in the image of God he created him,
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I give you all the seed-bearing plants that are upon the whole earth, and all the trees with seed-bearing fruit; this shall be your food. To all wild beasts, all birds of heaven and all living reptiles on the earth I give all the foliage of plants for food.’ And so it was. God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good. Evening came and morning came: the sixth day.
  Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their array. On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing. He rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing.

Psalm
Psalm 103(104):1-2,5-6,10,12-14,24,35 ©
Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.
Bless the Lord, my soul!
  Lord God, how great you are,
clothed in majesty and glory,
  wrapped in light as in a robe!
Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.
You founded the earth on its base,
  to stand firm from age to age.
You wrapped it with the ocean like a cloak:
  the waters stood higher than the mountains.
Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.
You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
  they flow in between the hills.
On their banks dwell the birds of heaven;
  from the branches they sing their song.
Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.
From your dwelling you water the hills;
  earth drinks its fill of your gift.
You make the grass grow for the cattle
  and the plants to serve man’s needs.
Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.
How many are your works, O Lord!
  In wisdom you have made them all.
  The earth is full of your riches.
Bless the Lord, my soul!
Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

Second reading Genesis 22:1-18 ©

The sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith

God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’
  Rising early next morning Abraham saddled his ass and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and started on his journey to the place God had pointed out to him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Then Abraham said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there; we will worship and come back to you.’
  Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering, loaded it on Isaac, and carried in his own hands the fire and the knife. Then the two of them set out together. Isaac spoke to his father Abraham, ‘Father’ he said. ‘Yes, my son’ he replied. ‘Look,’ he said ‘here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘My son, God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.’ Then the two of them went on together.
  When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.
  But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son.
  Abraham called this place ‘The Lord Provides’, and hence the saying today: On the mountain the Lord provides.
  The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’

Psalm
Psalm 15(16):5,8-11 ©
Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
  it is you yourself who are my prize.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
  since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.
Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
  even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
  nor let your beloved know decay.
Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
You will show me the path of life,
  the fullness of joy in your presence,
  at your right hand happiness for ever.
Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.

Third reading
Exodus 14:15-15:1 ©

The sons of Israel went on dry ground right into the sea

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me so? Tell the sons of Israel to march on. For yourself, raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and part it for the sons of Israel to walk through the sea on dry ground. I for my part will make the heart of the Egyptians so stubborn that they will follow them. So shall I win myself glory at the expense of Pharaoh, of all his army, his chariots, his horsemen. And when I have won glory for myself, at the expense of Pharaoh and his chariots and his army, the Egyptians will learn that I am the Lord.’
  Then the angel of God, who marched at the front of the army of Israel, changed station and moved to their rear. The pillar of cloud changed station from the front to the rear of them, and remained there. It came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. The cloud was dark, and the night passed without the armies drawing any closer the whole night long.
  Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove back the sea with a strong easterly wind all night, and he made dry land of the sea. The waters parted and the sons of Israel went on dry ground right into the sea, walls of water to right and to left of them. The Egyptians gave chase: after them they went, right into the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
  In the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians from the pillar of fire and of cloud, and threw the army into confusion. He so clogged their chariot wheels that they could scarcely make headway. ‘Let us flee from the Israelites,’ the Egyptians cried. ‘The Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians!’
  ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea,’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘that the waters may flow back on the Egyptians and their chariots and their horsemen.’
  Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and, as day broke, the sea returned to its bed. The fleeing Egyptians marched right into it, and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the very middle of the sea. The returning waters overwhelmed the chariots and the horsemen of Pharaoh’s whole army, which had followed the Israelites into the sea; not a single one of them was left. But the sons of Israel had marched through the sea on dry ground, walls of water to right and to left of them.
  That day, the Lord rescued Israel from the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. Israel witnessed the great act that the Lord had performed against the Egyptians, and the people venerated the Lord; they put their faith in the Lord and in Moses, his servant.
  It was then that Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song in honour of the Lord:

Canticle Exodus 15 ©

Hymn of victory after crossing the Red Sea

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!
I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!
  Horse and rider he has thrown into the sea!
The Lord is my strength, my song, my salvation.
  This is my God and I extol him,
  my father’s God and I give him praise.
I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!
The Lord is a warrior! ‘The Lord’ is his name.
  The chariots of Pharaoh he hurled into the sea,
the flower of his army is drowned in the sea.
  The deeps hide them; they sank like a stone.
I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!
Your right hand, Lord, glorious in its power,
  your right hand, Lord, has shattered the enemy.
  In the greatness of your glory you crushed the foe.
I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!
You will lead your people and plant them on your mountain,
  the place, O Lord, where you have made your home,
the sanctuary, Lord, which your hands have made.
  The Lord will reign for ever and ever.
I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!

Fourth reading Isaiah 54:5-14 ©

With everlasting love the Lord your redeemer has taken pity on you

Thus says the Lord:
Now your creator will be your husband,
his name, the Lord of Hosts;
your redeemer will be the Holy One of Israel,
he is called the God of the whole earth.
Yes, like a forsaken wife, distressed in spirit,
the Lord calls you back.
Does a man cast off the wife of his youth?
says your God.
I did forsake you for a brief moment,
but with great love will I take you back.
In excess of anger, for a moment
I hid my face from you.
But with everlasting love I have taken pity on you,
says the Lord, your redeemer.
I am now as I was in the days of Noah
when I swore that Noah’s waters
should never flood the world again.
So now I swear concerning my anger with you
and the threats I made against you;
for the mountains may depart,
the hills be shaken,
but my love for you will never leave you
and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken,
says the Lord who takes pity on you.
Unhappy creature, storm-tossed, disconsolate,
see, I will set your stones on carbuncles
and your foundations on sapphires.
I will make rubies your battlements,
your gates crystal,
and your entire wall precious stones.
Your sons will all be taught by the Lord.
The prosperity of your sons will be great.
You will be founded on integrity;
remote from oppression, you will have nothing to fear;
remote from terror, it will not approach you.

Psalm
Psalm 29(30):2,4-6,11-13 ©
I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.
I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me
  and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have raised my soul from the dead,
  restored me to life from those who sink into the grave.
I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.
Sing psalms to the Lord, you who love him,
  give thanks to his holy name.
His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life.
  At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.
The Lord listened and had pity.
  The Lord came to my help.
For me you have changed my mourning into dancing:
  O Lord my God, I will thank you for ever.
I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

Fifth reading Isaiah 55:1-11 ©

Come to me and your soul will live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you

Thus says the Lord:
Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty;
though you have no money, come!
Buy corn without money, and eat,
and, at no cost, wine and milk.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
your wages on what fails to satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat
and rich food to enjoy.
Pay attention, come to me;
listen, and your soul will live.
With you I will make an everlasting covenant
out of the favours promised to David.
See, I have made of you a witness to the peoples,
a leader and a master of the nations.
See, you will summon a nation you never knew,
those unknown will come hurrying to you,
for the sake of the Lord your God,
of the Holy One of Israel who will glorify you.
Seek the Lord while he is still to be found,
call to him while he is still near.
Let the wicked man abandon his way,
the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him,
to our God who is rich in forgiving;
for my thoughts are not your thoughts,
my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.
Yes, the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.
Yes, as the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.

Canticle Isaiah 12 ©

The rejoicing of a redeemed people

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Truly, God is my salvation,
  I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song,
  he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water
  from the wells of salvation.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Give thanks to the Lord, give praise to his name!
  Make his mighty deeds known to the peoples!
  Declare the greatness of his name.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Sing a psalm to the Lord
  for he has done glorious deeds;
  make them known to all the earth!
People of Zion, sing and shout for joy,
  for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Sixth reading
Baruch 3:9-15,32-4:4 ©

In the radiance of the Lord, make your way to light

Listen, Israel, to commands that bring life;
hear, and learn what knowledge means.
Why, Israel, why are you in the country of your enemies,
growing older and older in an alien land,
sharing defilement with the dead,
reckoned with those who go to Sheol?
Because you have forsaken the fountain of wisdom.
Had you walked in the way of God,
you would have lived in peace for ever.
Learn where knowledge is, where strength,
where understanding, and so learn
where length of days is, where life,
where the light of the eyes and where peace.
But who has found out where she lives,
who has entered her treasure house?
But the One who knows all knows her,
he has grasped her with his own intellect,
he has set the earth firm for ever
and filled it with four-footed beasts.
He sends the light – and it goes,
he recalls it – and trembling it obeys;
the stars shine joyfully at their set times:
when he calls them, they answer, ‘Here we are’;
they gladly shine for their creator.
It is he who is our God,
no other can compare with him.
He has grasped the whole way of knowledge,
and confided it to his servant Jacob,
to Israel his well-beloved;
so causing her to appear on earth
and move among men.
This is the book of the commandments of God,
the Law that stands for ever;
those who keep her live,
those who desert her die.
Turn back, Jacob, seize her,
in her radiance make your way to light:
do not yield your glory to another,
your privilege to a people not your own.
Israel, blessed are we:
what pleases God has been revealed to us.

Psalm
Psalm 18(19):8-11 ©
You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
  it revives the soul.
The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,
  it gives wisdom to the simple.
You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
  they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear,
  it gives light to the eyes.
You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.
The fear of the Lord is holy,
  abiding for ever.
The decrees of the Lord are truth
  and all of them just.
You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.
They are more to be desired than gold,
  than the purest of gold
and sweeter are they than honey,
  than honey from the comb.
You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.

Seventh reading
Ezekiel 36:16-17,18-28 ©

I shall pour clean water over you and I shall give you a new heart

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘Son of man, the members of the House of Israel used to live in their own land, but they defiled it by their conduct and actions. I then discharged my fury at them because of the blood they shed in their land and the idols with which they defiled it. I scattered them among the nations and dispersed them in foreign countries. I sentenced them as their conduct and actions deserved. And now they have profaned my holy name among the nations where they have gone, so that people say of them, “These are the people of the Lord; they have been exiled from his land.”
  ‘But I have been concerned about my holy name, which the House of Israel has profaned among the nations where they have gone.
  ‘And so, say to the House of Israel, “The Lord says this: I am not doing this for your sake, House of Israel, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I mean to display the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned among them. And the nations will learn that I am the Lord – it is the Lord who speaks – when I display my holiness for your sake before their eyes. Then I am going to take you from among the nations and gather you together from all the foreign countries, and bring you home to your own land.
  ‘“I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols. I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you, and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances. You will live in the land which I gave your ancestors. You shall be my people and I will be your God.”’

The psalm to be used after the Seventh Reading varies from place to place and it depends on whether a baptism is being celebrated at the Easter Vigil.
In the USA:
  If there is no baptism, either Isaiah 12 or Psalm 50(51) is used.
  If there is a baptism, Psalm 41(42) is used.
In the English-speaking world:
  If there is no baptism, Psalm 41(42) is used.
  If there is a baptism, either Isaiah 12 or Psalm 50(51) MUST be used instead.
In the rest of the world:
  If there is no baptism, Psalm 41(42) is used.
  If there is a baptism, either Isaiah 12 or Psalm 50(51) MAY be used instead.
The psalms are listed below. Isaiah 12 is shown above, after the Fifth Reading.
Psalm
Psalm 41(42):2-3,5,42:3-4 ©
Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.
My soul is thirsting for God,
  the God of my life;
when can I enter and see
  the face of God?
Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.
These things will I remember
  as I pour out my soul:
how I would lead the rejoicing crowd
  into the house of God,
amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving,
  the throng wild with joy.
Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.
O send forth your light and your truth;
  let these be my guide.
Let them bring me to your holy mountain,
  to the place where you dwell.
Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.
And I will come to the altar of God,
  the God of my joy.
My redeemer, I will thank you on the harp,
  O God, my God.
Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

Epistle Romans 6:3-11 ©

Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again

When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.
  If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection. We must realise that our former selves have been crucified with him to destroy this sinful body and to free us from the slavery of sin. When a Christian dies, of course, he has finished with sin.
  But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more. When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

Psalm
Psalm 117(118):1-2,16-17,22-23 ©
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
  for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
  ‘His love has no end.’
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
  his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
  and recount his deeds.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The stone which the builders rejected
  has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
  a marvel in our eyes.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Gospel Matthew 28:1-10 ©

He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you into Galilee

After the sabbath, and towards dawn on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre. And all at once there was a violent earthquake, for the angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His face was like lightning, his robe white as snow. The guards were so shaken, so frightened of him, that they were like dead men. But the angel spoke; and he said to the women, ‘There is no need for you to be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would. Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him.” Now I have told you.’ Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.
  And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’

Details

Start:
April 3
End:
April 4