Readings and Reflection for April 16, Holy Saturday: Easter Vigil

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FIRST READING
“God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
A reading from the Book of Genesis (Genesis 1:1-2:2)

in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. And God said, “let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. And God said, “let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day. And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.* And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.

The word of the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 104:1-2a.5-6.10 and12.13- 14.24 and 35c (R. cf. 30)
R/. Lord, send forth your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, how great you are,
clothed in majesty and honour,
wrapped in light as with a robe! R/.

You set the earth on its foundation,
immovable from age to age.
You wrapped it with the depths like a cloak;
the waters stood higher than the mountains. R/.

R/. Lord, send forth your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow in between the hills.
There the birds of heaven build their nests;
from the branches they sing their song. R/.

From your dwelling you water the hills;
by your works the earth has its fill.
You make the grass grow for the cattle
and plants to serve mankind’s need.
That he may bring forth bread from the earth. R/.

How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your creatures.
Bless the Lord, O my soul. R.

SECOND READING   
”The sacrifice of Abraham our father in faith.”
A reading from the Book of Genesis (Gen 22:1-18)

In those days: God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only-begotten son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham! ” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only-begotten son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went  and took the ram,  and offered  it up  as a burnt  offering  instead  of his son.*
So Abraham called the name of that place the Lord will provide; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only-begotten son, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm16:5 and 8.9-10.11 (R. 1)
R/. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
you yourself who secure my lot.
I keep the Lord before me always;
with him at my right hand,
I shall not be moved. R/.

And so, my heart rejoices,
my soul is glad;
even my flesh shall rest in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to hell,
nor let your holy one see corruption. R/.

R/. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand, bliss forever. R/.

THIRD READING
“The sons of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea.”
A reading from the Book of Exodus (Exodus14:15-15:1)

In those days: The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the sons of Israel may go on dry ground through the sea. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Then the angel of God who went before the host of Israel moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness; and the night passed without one coming near the other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the sons of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily; and the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel; for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” So Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its usual flow when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled into it, and the Lord routed the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not so much as one of them remained. But the sons of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore. And Israel saw the great work which the Lord did against the Egyptians, and the people feared the Lord; and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”

The word of the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Exodus 15: 1b-2.3-4.5-6. 17- 18 (R. 1b)
R/. I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.

I will sing to the Lord,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider
he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him. R/.

The LORD is a man of war;
the Lord is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his host
he cast into the sea;
and his picked officers are sunk in the Red Sea. R/.

R/. I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.

The floods cover them;
they went down into the depths
like a stone Your right hand,
O Lord, glorious in power,
your right hand, O Lord,
shatters the enemy. R/.

You will bring your people in,
and plant them on your own mountain,
the place, O Lord, which you have made
for your abode, the sanctuary,
O Lord, which your hands have established.
The Lord will reign for ever and ever. R/.

FOURTH READING                                          
“With everlasting mercy I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your redeemer.”
A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 54:5- 14)

Your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting mercy I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer. “For this is like the days of Noah to me: I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my mercy shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you. “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of agate, your gates of carbuncles, and all your wall of precious stones. All your sons shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your sons. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.

The word of the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM   Ps 30:2 and 4.5-6.11-12a and 13b (R.  2a)
R/. I will extol you, O Lord, for you have raised me up.

I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up,
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have lifted up my soul from the grave,
restored me to life from those who sink into the pit. R/.

Sing psalms to the Lord, you faithful ones;
give thanks to his holy name.
His anger lasts a moment;
his favour all through life.
At night there are tears,
but at dawn comes joy. R/.

R/. I will extol you, O Lord, for you have raised me up.

Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me;
be my helper, O Lord.
You have changed my mourning into dancing.

FIFTH READING
“Come to me that your soul may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant.”
A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 55 :1-11)

Thus says the Lord:  “Ho, every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, merciful love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call nations that you know not, and nations that knew you not shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I intend, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

The word of the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Isaiah 12:2-3.4bcde.5-6 (R. 3)
R/. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. R/.

“Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the nations,
proclaim that his name is exalted.” R/.

R/. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” R/.

SIXTH READING
“Walk towards the shining light of the Lord.”
A reading from the Book of Baruch (Baruch 3:9-15.32-4:4)

Hear the commandments of life, O Israel; give ear, and learn wisdom! Why is it, O Israel, why is it that you are in the land of your enemies, that you are growing old in a foreign country, that you are defiled with the dead, that you are counted among those in Hades? You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom. If you had walked in the way of God, you would be dwelling in peace for ever. Learn where there is wisdom, where there is strength, where there is understanding, that you may at the same time discern where there is length of days, and life, where there is light for the eyes, and peace. Who has found her place? And who has entered her storehouses? But he who knows all things knows her, he found her by his understanding. He who prepared the earth for all time filled it with four-footed creatures; he who sends forth the light, and it goes, called it, and it obeyed him in fear; the stars shone in their watches, and were glad; he called them, and they said, “Here we are!” They shone with gladness for him who made them. This is our God; no other can be compared to him! He found the whole way to knowledge, and gave her to Jacob his servant and to Israel whom he loved. Afterwards she appeared upon earth and lived among men. She is the book of the commandments of God, and the law that endures for ever. All who hold her fast will live, and those who forsake her will die. Turn, O Jacob, and take her; walk towards the shining of her light. Do not give your glory to another, or your advantages to an alien people. Happy are we, O Israel, for we know what is pleasing to God.

The word of the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 19:8.9. 1 0.11 (R. John 5:68c)
R/. Lord, you have the words of eternal life.

The law of the Lord is perfect; It revives the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are steadfast;
They give wisdom to the simple. R/.

The precepts of the Lord are right;
They gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear;
it gives light to the eyes. R/.

R/. Lord, you have the words of eternal life.

The fear of the Lord is pure, Abiding forever.
The judgements of the Lord are true;
They are, all of them, just. R/.

They are more to be desired than gold,
than quantities of gold.
And sweeter are they than honey, Than honey flowing from the comb. R/.

SEVENTH READING        
“I shall sprinkle clean water upon you, a new heart I will give you.”
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36: 16-17a.1 8-25)

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their doings. So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood which they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries; in accordance with their conduct and their deeds I judged them. But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that men said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they had to go out of his land. ’ But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel caused to be profaned among the nations to which they came. “Therefore say to the house  of Israel, Thus  says the  Lord  God:  It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations will know that I am the Lord, says the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”

The word of the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM   Psalm 42:3.5bcd; 43 :3.4 (R. 42:2)
R/. Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God the living God;
when can I enter and appear before the face of God? R/.

For I would go to the place of your wondrous  tent,
all the way to the house of God,
amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving,
the throng keeping joyful festival. R/.

R/. Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

O send forth your light and your truth;
They will guide me on.
They will bring me to your holy mountain,
To the place where you dwell. R/.

And I will come to the altar of God,
To God, my joy and gladness.
To you will I give thanks on the harp,
O God, my God. R/.

EPISTLE                      
Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again.”
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (Romans 6:3-11)

Brethren: All of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our former man was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm118: 1-2.15c- 17.22-23
R/. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Give praise to the Lord, for he is good;
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.” R/.

“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty deeds;
His right hand is exalted.
The Lord’s right hand has done mighty deeds.”
I shall not die, I shall live
And recount the deeds of the Lord. R/.

The stone that the builders rejected
Has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done,
A marvel in our eyes. R/.

Gospel
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 24:1-12)

On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body.  While they were perplexed about this behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them,  “why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here but has risen.  Remember how he told you, while was still in Galilee; that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified and on the third day rise, “And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the Eleven and to all the rest.  Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and a Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.  But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened.

The Gospel of the Lord.

TODAY’S REFLECTION
This is the night of ultimate victory over sin and death. This is the night of new life, new light and new hope. The darkness of this night is torn apart up by the glorious brightness of the one who conquered the power of evil, sin and death. The sadness and glooms of Good Friday are changed into joyous songs of Alleluia.  The Paschal mystery reaches its climax tonight. The resurrection of Jesus completed the Father’s plan for the salvation of the world. Eternal life is made possible as the one who was tortured, humiliated, crucified on a tree and buried in a tomb comes out alive. Because He rose, we too shall rise again, Because He is alive, we too shall live. In Christ we have our victory. In His resurrection we have our life. We still have to pass through the, sorrows, struggles, defeats, rejections, humiliations, misunderstanding and tortures of our Good Friday in this world. But all of these will end as we partake of the glory of the Risen Jesus. Following Christ our Master, we carry our crosses and walk to our Calvary daily, so that we shall enjoy the glory of new life with Him. Our baptism is a participation in His death and resurrection.  We shall renew and live our baptismal commitment and live in the innocence of our new life daily so that we shall enjoy the glory that awaits us.

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