Friday, April 10, 2009

Who Will Roll Away the Stone?

April 11, 2009

Easter Sunday The Resurrection of the Lord - At the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter

"Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large. Mark 16:3-4


Ask and you will receive.


Throughout salvation history, God has just wanted to be square with us. Like a scene from Monty Python and the search for the Holy rail, the Lord is not looking for groveling worshipers. He wants to walk with us. He wants to be our friend.

Jesus’ relationship with the disciples developed into true friendship. At the Last Supper, Jesus noted: You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. John 15:14-15 Such is the kind of relationship God seeks with us.

Later during this Passover discourse, Jesus prompted these friends to rely upon him for what they needed. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. John 16:24. But the disciples still did not understand what he meant.

Before the sun (Son) was barely arisen on Easter Sunday morning, Jesus started answering their prayers. Mary and her companions were walking to anoint the body of Jesus but she was anxious about getting access to the tomb. “Who will roll away the stone?” Before she even had time to ask him, Jesus rolled away the stone so they and now we could begin to have a clear understanding of how the resurrected Jesus in partnership with the Holy Spirit will take care of our needs in this world.

Tonight at the Easter Vigil, we listen to the Word proclaiming how our ancestors have asked the Lord for what they needed. We will hear how the Lord answered them in their obedience and in their disobedience. And we will hear how people reacted before and after the Resurrection.

We referred to our beloved Cursillo as a “short course in Christianity.” The Easter Vigil compresses the four days of Cursillo into one concentrated liturgical and sacramental celebration of the entire salvation history. Evening came. Morning followed. At the Vigil, we have a sweeping series of lessons in our condensed study of our faith. From Genesis to Abraham, we hear about the dark times. However, the love of the Lord always went before us and followed whatever darkness we faced.

  1. Creating a mate and everything that is good. (God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed--the sixth day. Genesis 1:22)

  1. Blessing Abraham for his leadership, obedience and willingness to sacrifice that which he loved most in order to follow the Lord. ("I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing--all this because you obeyed my command.'' Genesis 22:16-18)

  1. Leading Moses and the Israelites triumphantly out of Egypt because they accepted the invitation of the Lord to follow him to safety. (Thus the LORD saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians. When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore and beheld the great power that the LORD had shown against the Egyptians, they feared the LORD and believed in him and in his servant Moses. Exodus 14:30-31)

  1. Remembering the promises made to Isaiah. (All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. In justice shall you be established,
    far from the fear of oppression, where destruction cannot come near you.
    Isaiah 54:13-14)

  1. The promise that God’s salvation is freely given to all who seek it. (All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Isaiah 55:1-2)

  1. The grandeur and goodness of all that the Lord provides to us. (Yet he who knows all things knows her; he has probed her by his knowledge-- He who established the earth for all time, and filled it with four-footed beasts; He who dismisses the light, and it departs, calls it, and it obeys him trembling; Before whom the stars at their posts shine and rejoice; When he calls them, they answer, "Here we are!" shining with joy for their Maker. Such is our God; no other is to be compared to him. Baruch 3:32-36)

  1. Despite all we do in turning away from God and succumbing to the obstacles, God will prove His holiness through his goodness and generosity always renewing the original covenant with us. (For I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I gave your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:24-28)


How often do we experience something yet fail to fully understand its significance until a later date. Generations remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot, the Challenger exploded, the September 11th attacks commenced.

Jesus is risen. After two thousand years, do we yet fully understand this act of sacrifice and generosity?

We are powerless without God’s help. He reminds us today that all we need to do is ask. Through the crucifixion, his only son has redeemed us for our sins. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. Romans 6:6-8

Ask and you shall receive no matter how big that stone is which must be rolled away.

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