Recalling and remembering not a past reality, but present Truth

The rite of Baptism was done by infusion, instead of immersion, while the rite of Confirmation was carried out with cotton, which the Archbishop used to mark the Confirmands.

Apr 06, 2021

Abp John Wong uses cotton to mark Oil of Chrism on Elect at Easter Vigil Mass

By Agnes Chai

This evening I invite you to recall, remember and recover afresh the sense of who we are, where we have come from, and what we will be, Archbishop John Wong made the point in his homily at the Easter Vigil Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday night Apr 3.

Highlighting that “Remembrance” was a theme running through the Readings, he wondered aloud whether the faithful knew of what happened 2000 years ago.

To help the people to remember ‘who they are’, the first reading recalled that we come from God, “made from the dust of earth”, and made for the purpose of filling the earth with our fruitfulness and being made caretakers of all God’s creations.

To remember ‘where we come from’, Abraham from the second reading recalled us to how his obedience has blessed him “with descendants as many as the stars in heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore”; and how God would later give His only Son for the salvation of the world, through His obedience.

We remember our ancestors, from the third reading, who were once slaves in Egypt, were brought into freedom by God; just as Christ has won for us through the Cross of Victory.

However, our strongest memory on this night should focus on Jesus Christ, the One who gives us our fundamental and true identity, preached the Archbishop. “At the Easter Proclamation – the Exsultet – we recalled that it was He ‘Who paid the debt of Adam’ and ‘Who poured out His own blood to wipe clean the record of our ancient sinfulness’.

On this holiest of Christian feast, the memories that “we are recalling and remembering is not of a past event, but a present reality” emphasized Archbishop.

He explained “In the Exsultet, the words celebrating the resurrection of Jesus were not ‘This was the night’, but ‘This is the night’. It is not a past reality, but present Truth. It is in the Holy Spirit that we recall the events in the present, the here and now.

Beyond the sealed tomb there is hope
Continuing his preaching, Archbishop Wong reminded “Tonight, as we stand at the threshold of Easter, we know that problems, difficulties, challenges, sins, sufferings and death do not have the last word. We believe that beyond the sealed tomb, there is Hope because Jesus Christ has risen from the death, the tomb cannot prevent the power of His Love for us.”

Just as the women of the Gospel who visited the tomb with hearts filled with powerlessness at the event of the death of their loving Lord, we too experience powerlessness when we see our loved ones suffering, when we are being overwhelmed by problems and challenges, when we witness the lack of ethical values around us, and when we read of news of abuse, violence and killings in the world.

He cautioned, this sense of powerless is like a trap that could lead us to think: “What is the point of being good? There is no use in trying to change this culture in the family, Church, office, and/or society.

“In spite of all these challenges that we face each day, the Lord, who is risen, wants us to be an Easter people who are joyful in living and sharing our faith, underlined the preacher.”

The Gospel account tells us that “a young man in the tomb” told the women that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, and that He has risen. They were to “go and tell” His disciples and Peter.

He concluded, Easter is the night that we should really rejoice over the new Life given to us by the Risen Lord, a night on which Jesus rose from the dead to show us how much He loves us. Therefore “in the encounter with this Great Love, we are to receive it, live it, announce it, and share it with others.”

For the second year in a row, the ceremony for the baptisms was pared down due to the restrictions put in place by the government to curb the spread of the COVID-19. All catechumens as well as parishioners remained seated while the Archbishop, accompanied by a handful of Communion ministers, celebrated the initial rite of the Blessing of the fire and Paschal Candle at the entrance of the Cathedral.

The rite of Baptism was done by infusion, instead of immersion, while the rite of Confirmation was carried out with cotton, which the Archbishop used to mark the Confirmands. Of the seventeen candidates, nine received Baptism, four received Confirmation, and four were accepted into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The Archbishop was joined by thousands of Catholics both within and outside the Archdiocese via digital media across the YouTube platform, as was the case throughout the celebration of the Easter Triduum which began on Holy Thursday.––CS

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