Easter Message — God is able to turn things round

Forty-two catechumens received the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation during a joyous Easter Vigil at St Michael’s Church on April 19.

May 02, 2014

IPOH (Herald Malaysia): Forty-two catechumens received the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation during a joyous Easter Vigil at St Michael’s Church on April 19.

They comprised seventeen from the English-speaking group and 25 from the Chinese-speaking.

Of the 25 from the Chinese group, there were 20 who received both Sacraments while five received the Sacrament of Confirmation. There were several children amongst the catechumens, the youngest being Myra Yee Jung Hui, an infant of three months.

SMC parish priest Fr Stephen Liew, the celebrant, began the Easter Vigil by the traditional blessing of the fire outside the Church. Then he placed the five grains of incense into the Paschal Candle in the form of a cross before lighting the candle with the blessed fire.

Then carrying the lighted Paschal Candle, Fr Liew led the congregation into the darkened Church, singing Lumen Christi (the Light of Christ) three times as the crowd responded with “Thanks be to God”.

The whole Church was aglow with candles carried by the congregation, who lit their candles from the Easter Candle.

As the Sanctuary and church lights came on, the Exsultet (a hymn of praise and triumph) was sung by Matthew Khong, a cantor from St Peter’s choir. Then the readings of the Word followed.

These consisted of readings of the Old Testament, each one followed by a prayer.

Traditionally these readings describe the creation of the world and of man, of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son, of the deliverance of Israel from the Egyptians, the prophecies of Isaiah and Baruch concerning the trials of Israel, the coming of Christ, his church, its spread and its abundant graces, the story of the Paschal lamb and of the empty tomb, with the angel’s message of Christ’s resurrection.

In short, these readings with their reference to baptism and penance, are an instructive summary of the principal points of Christian doctrine for catechumens.

Fr Liew, in his homily, pointed this out:

“From the blessing of the fire, we are still in vigil waiting for Jesus’ resurrection.

“God reminds us of the desire of God, that everyone of us must have life, for we are created for life.

“If we have been paying attention, the message of Easter is that God is able to turn things around, from death to new life.

“For example, the flood waters in the story of Noah, were an instrument of death but though the waters of Baptism, it is new life.

“That is why we share new life with Christ, because God turned it into something life-giving.”

Fr Liew said the cross is an instrument of death, suffering and shame. Yet God turned it into an instrument of life, and glory. The cross, because of Jesus’ death and suffering, has become a bridge to God. He said that in celebrating Easter, God tells us that the last word for humans is not death but resurrection and life. Jesus turned it into an instrument of glory and a bridge to reach Him.

“God tells us sin is not our master, but compassion and love are our master. The last word for us is life and grace and that is what the resurrection of Jesus does for us. Today we rejoice with our brothers and sisters who are here to be baptized,” he said.

After Mass, the congregation wished each other a Happy and Blessed Easter and congratulated the newly baptized, welcoming them into the community of the parish, fellowship and service.

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