Benedict XVI’s Homily for the Easter Vigil this year, at the beginning of the seventh year of his Pontificate, is impressive. The text will live on among the most memorable — and they are certainly not a few — of a Pope who with his words is restoring strength and clarity to the Christian tradition in a world inundated with a plethora of messages.
As always in the main events of the Christian season, it is the Liturgy that claims the attention of Pope Ratzinger with its signs and the Word. Thus in the Easter Vigil the light of the fire, a symbol of the unapproachable lumen Christi which shines in the darkness of the night and of the world, and water, which indicates immersion ( baptisma ) in death and the salvation brought by Christ’s Resurrection.
This year, however, Benedict XVI who has the gift of reaching the essence, chose to focus his reflection on the word of Scripture, inspired by God and proclaimed in the Liturgy — in particular, on the ancient Old Testament prophesies, which not only tell the story of salvation but show the “the inner foundation and orientation of history”, starting with creation.
The actual decision to set this account at the beginning of the most important Liturgy of the year points to the specificity of the Church: not to satisfy man’s religious needs but to bring “man into contact with God”. Recognizing the reality of a universe that is not random but is created by a Word and by a good Reason: the logos , which was “in the beginning”, when God created the heavens and the earth and rested on the Sabbath.
Desired by a good Reason, creation remains good despite “a thick black line” which appeared and opposes it, because of the abuse of the freedom desired by this same Reason: a Reason. The Church’s conviction was and remains contrary to every form of gnosticism hostile to creation. The Church, on the first day after the Sabbath — from that time on the “day of the Lord” ( dies dominica ) — encountered the Risen One. The only One to have conquered death and to have changed the world.
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