Welcome to Holy Saturday, A special day in the history of our faith. The night is holy, special and extremely important for the growth of our faith. Today our hope was assured.
Without this night, what would have been our faith? It is a holy night full of mystery when the Lord Jesus broke the bonds of death and exterminated darkness.
After Good Friday, it was as if all hope is lost. Then on Holy Saturday, our hope was assured. The Holy Saturday says “man your hope in God will never be in vain”. It is a sign that no power can defeat the power of Jesus.
The night is the period of darkness from sunset to sunrise every twenty-four hours when the Sun is below the horizon. The exact time when night begins and ends depends on the location and varies throughout the year. The night ends with the coming of the morning at sunrise.
One special characteristic of the night is that it is surrounded by darkness. Darkness takes over the night. Today, the night takes a major shift because the Saviour of the world is now involved. This is the reason it is holy. It is a night that God intervened in the history of the human race.
It is no longer darkness as usual because Jesus has conquered the darkness of the night and saved man from eternal darkness. Amid the night came the Light of the world to enlighten our paths again, darkened by the sin of Adam. What a Holy Night.
When The Light comes.
One thing about every night is that it gradually moves to the morning. The only thing that can dispel the night is the Light. When the light comes, Night goes into extinction.
The Night is neither perpetual nor enduring. The advent of the Light subdues the night. The night only comes when the Light is absent. Today’s night is special.
Since Thursday and Friday, it looks as if the world is in chaos because the King went into agony, He suffered, crucified, died and was buried; it looks like a point of no return. It was as if the King has fallen into an eternal sleep. Hence, everyone was afraid, the apostles dispersed in fear and the earth was held standstill.
After Good Friday, it was as if darkness is having the victory. At that point, the dead, the living, were in a sober moment on what might be the outcome of this. And today we will receive the highest news ever that Jesus has conquered death.
Before today, the earth was shrouded in darkness, but as I said, the night is not enduring, the power of the darkness of the night was dispelled with the presence of the Light of the World (John 8:12). The beginning of the celebration of today’s celebration captures the scenario.
The Easter Virgil begins in Darkness.
The Easter Vigil mass begins in darkness. We switch off every light. It was as if darkness want to clinch the victory. It is like the darkness of the closed tomb where Jesus’ body lay on Holy Saturday. The stone has been rolled in front of it. No light enters and it was utterly dark.
It was a moment of total darkness. This kept everyone in fear and expectation, but the reign of darkness is momentary. As we proceed, into the church, the lights are switched on again, signifying the emergence of Light.
Light comes. Just as “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep…” (Genesis 1:1-2a). In the beginning, all was a dark void.
It is like the darkness of the Covid 19 pandemic scare that has kept the world at a standstill; A situation where we immerse any ray of hope in the vacuum of fear, of not knowing, of total emptiness.
Then, It is still in this emptiness, God appears and says ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light’
God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day” (Genesis 1:3,5).
Just as in the Holy Saturday, darkness was just momentary and Light came and took the center stage. This gives me a lot of encouragement that there is always hope.
The Special Night.
The Night though gloom it may look, always gives birth to the morning. Today’s holy night is a night but a night unto glory. The Holy Saturday’s Exultet captures the power of this night.
Since the Lenten journey, it has been gloomy, suffering, chastisement all these while, at a point, it was as if our hope is dashed to the ground. But with Jesus, victory came through the night. It is a night that leads to victory. The Exultet captures the special night. The songs say:
This is the night when once God led our forebears, Israel’s children, from slavery in Egypt and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.
This is the night that with a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin.
O This is the night that even now, throughout the world, sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices and the gloom of sin, leading them to grace and joining them to his holy ones.
This is the night when Christ broke the prison bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld. Our birth would have been no gain, had we not been redeemed.
This is the night of which it is written: The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.
O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.
This night is full of mystery, holy and blessed.
The Liturgy of the Day.
Everything we do in the liturgy of today is simply a celebration of the passage from the past to the future, from old to new, from sadness to joy, from pains and suffering to victory.
The mass begins with the night but ends with the light. At the mass, We sing the Exultet; the song of joy. The readings start from the Old Testament, then to the New Testament. There is the great Alleluia chant. We sing the Gloria again, the bells ring, and we decorate the altar again.
These signify the moments of joy, that good things are happening, the night is giving birth to something special and salvific.
On this night, there is a baptism, which is also birth to new life. We begin afresh new vows we made during our baptism, a sign of rebirth. It is a night unto glory when Jesus conquers the power of darkness.
What is Special About the Night?
1. It is the centre of our faith: Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14, that if Christ did not rise from the dead, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. This is what makes Christianity different. Any other religious founder experienced death but only Jesus conquered the power of death.
2. It is the centre of our hope: Everything that we do or labour for our salvation is never in vain. Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 15: 57- 58, that “thanks be to God, who gives us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast. Always excel in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.
3. From Darkness to Light. The first reading in the celebration of Holy Saturday makes us understand that before the creation of the world, the earth was shrouded in darkness. God speaks light into the world. Jesus is the word of God.
Today, He makes this act from God come to perfect fulfilment. At this night, light truly enveloped the world. So, the holy night is a night that God saves man from darkness to light. Like the creation narrative of the first reading, this is a night of recreation when God makes everything new again.
4. The New Covenant: In the second reading from the Old Testament, God made a covenant with Abraham after He proved how faithful and obedient He is to God. God promises to make Him a blessing and make his descendants as many as the sands of the seashore. God promises to bless His descendants forever.
At the last supper with His disciples, Jesus declares that through the shedding of His blood there would come into existence a new covenant.
Luke 22:19-20 says “and He took bread when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples saying, ‘this is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’. And likewise, the cup after they had eaten, saying ‘this cup poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”.
So, the Holy Night is the ratification of the new covenant, when God promises to save man from sin. There is now the assurance of our blessings and inheritance in Christ.
5. Saved from Slavery: In the third reading of Holy Saturday, we see how God saved the people from slavery in Egypt. After the sin of Adam and Eve, God says to the serpent “I will bring enmity between you and the woman. Between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head”.
Since then, the earth has been waiting for the messiah that will crush the head of the serpent. So, Tonight, Jesus has saved the man from the slavery and bondage of sin.
Jesus has conquered the power of the devil. At the mention of His name, every knee in heaven and on earth bows (Philippians 2;10)
1. We can interpret darkness as any moment that limits our joy and graces from God. It can be the darkness of sin and the darkness of despair. Hence, it can be the darkness of the loss of someone dear to us, whose absence we fear we will never be able to deal with.
This also can be the darkness of a terrifying diagnosis, the darkness of a shattering reality that we had no idea was coming our way, the darkness of covid 19, the darkness of betrayal, the darkness of total abandonment. At these moments, let us always seek for the Light.
We need the Light of the World to come into our lives again, just as all with the candles, is awaiting that glittering moment of resurrection.
2. There are times we find ourselves in moments of no return. There are moments when our faith seems to dash to the ground. In the tomb of Jesus, we find the same reality. It was like the situation at the beginning of the world, like a dark void.
Have you ever found yourself in complete, total darkness? The Holy Saturday assures us that our journey in life is not vain.
The Journey of life may begin in utter dismay but never lose hope. The darkness is not enduring. There is always hope. The night can be gloomy but can still be the way to a blessing. Look into your night, it can be a blessing in disguise.
3. We need to seek the light, and run away from the darkness of sin. What would our lives look like without God? The exultet says “How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and our sins are washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn”
In this Holy Night, Jesus has reconciled us again. Sin darkens our lives but darkness comes and goes with the presence of the Light. Therefore, let us make good use of this moment.
3b. Through Jesus, our reconciliation with God is sure. He reconciles us to God again. Therefore, our baptism is the sign of this reconciliation. Through baptism, we receive the mark of Christ’s own forever.
4. Those who will remain in the night are the people who will refuse to embrace the Light. Therefore, they are also those who have refused to let the past go. They are those who have refused to seek the Light. Let us come out of darkness and embrace the Light for the sake of our good.
Again I say rejoice, sing songs of victory and be happy. Jesus is alive. Happy Easter!!
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