(Psalm) Exodus 15:1-6, 17-18
He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. (Mark 16:7)
Today we experience the silence of the tomb. Jesus appears to be “sleeping in death,” as if resting from his harrowing Passion. But if this is a sleep at all, it’s a very active one! Tonight at the Easter Vigil, we will proclaim that he has descended into hell, trampled its gates, and broken Satan’s hold on humanity. All night, we will wait in eager anticipation for his resurrection to free us from the ancient curse of sin and restore us to life in God.
We will also be reminded tonight of the night the Israelites passed on the shores of the Red Sea. Escaping into the desert after the angel of death had passed over them, they found themselves trapped, with the sea before them and Pharaoh’s troops behind them. They kept vigil there, with a mysterious angel of the Lord and a pillar of cloud guarding them through the night (Exodus 14:19). Their lives hung in the balance, and they could only stand firm in faith (14:14). There was nothing else they could do. Everything depended on God.
Jesus’ disciples found themselves in a similar situation after his crucifixion. No amount of effort—not Peter’s grief at denying his Master nor the women’s kindly preparations to anoint Jesus’ body with spices—could bring the Master back to life. There was nothing they could do but wait. But it is precisely here, at the end of all human resources, that God’s power shines through most gloriously. When we were dead in sin, he sent his Son to restore us to life. When we could not save ourselves, Jesus rescued us. When we were enslaved to the devil, God loosed our chains.
Let’s wait on the Lord tonight. We have only to “keep still,” and he will act on our behalf (Exodus 14:14). Even if you are not able to attend the Vigil, spend some time this evening keeping watch and waiting for the light of Christ to break forth. This is the “truly blessed night, worthy alone to know the time and hour when Christ rose from the underworld!” (Easter Exsultet).
“O Christ our Savior, all our hope is in you! Through your resurrection, deliver us from our sins and fears. Transform our sorrows into joy. Restore us, Lord, to life in you.”~WAU