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The power that has held us ransom has been overthrown

KOTA KINABALU (CS) – Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!  The evangelist tells us that the very stone that was rolled across the entrance to Jesus’ tomb has been effortlessly rolled away.

“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.” (Mt 28:1-10)

The power that has held us ransom has been overthrown. “Tonight, we should  know that Jesus Christ is indeed the Light and Life of the world,” proclaimed Archbishop John Wong at the Easter Vigil Mass, the Mother of all Vigils, live streamed from the Sacred Heart Cathedral to the homes of all God’s resurrected people Apr 11.

The Light and Life of the world, represented by the Easter Candle, was lit and carried into the Church. It is the symbolism that acclaims the Risen Christ, said the Archbishop, which lights up the darkened Church and tells us clearly the reality of Jesus, whose death we celebrated yesterday, and who has risen in our midst.

At the first-ever Easter Vigil Mass, which was presided within the small confines of the Cathedral chapel with two assisting priests, a reduced choir and a few lectors/readers because of the pandemic, Archbishop Wong set out to affirm the community of faith.

“Though we are separated physically,” underlined the Archbishop, “the celebration tonight is our personal participation, affirmation and our belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ who has risen from the dead, and is now in our midst, in each of our heart, and in the heart of the entire Living Community of the Archdiocese as we welcome Him into our respective homes and hearts.”

He invited over four thousand people who accessed the live streaming to follow the Mass to ponder for a moment “Do we really experience the Risen Lord who has come to dwell in our heart?”

Recalling the words of the evangelist when he spoke of the stone that was rolled away by an angel of the Lord, Archbishop Wong reflected that there are many “stones” that may separate us from Life. They may be huge ones just like the one at the entrance of Jesus’ tomb, which prevent us from looking at what is on the other side. In so doing, they prevent us from touching Life, which is won for us and is offered to us by the Risen Lord.

But every reality can be filled with life, as painful as it might be, by removing the “stone”, maintained the preacher. He affirmed “Tonight, no matter how big is your “stone”, the Risen Lord will remove it for you if you allow him to do so.”

Life is present everywhere even if it is hard to see it, underscored the Archbishop. “This is because Jesus Christ, who is the Light and Life of the world, has defeated death. We need to put the same faith in the Life as we have for the Cross of Jesus,” he stressed.

St Matthew’s Gospel also records that the angel of the Lord gave an Easter Message to the women who visited the sepulchre “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.”

We must listen and pay attention to the Easter Message, urged the Archbishop… “There is no need to be afraid” – that we should not be afraid to open our heart to Him Who will and is able to remove all the “stones” that prevent us from experiencing life, the life that He is offering us, Life Eternal.

He added, when we put all our faith in Him, we will experience the life He is offering us. If we open our heart to Him, instead of running away from Him and allowing Him to possess us, we will grasp the true meaning of Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus. “Rejoice! He is coming to meet you now as He met the women in the Gospel,” assured the Archbishop. – AC

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