On this Holy Night, we have recounted the history of salvation; the revelation of the relationship of covenant love between God and man, from the moment of creation, and through the Exodus event at the Red Sea. We read the promises of the prophet Ezekiel to a people in Exile, and finally, we see the empty tomb and hear the announcement of the angel that Jesus has been raised.
The resurrection of Jesus is the climax of God’s saving action. Our profession of faith that Jesus has died and is risen is a life-changing reality. Like the candle light which comes into a darkened church, the light and truth of the risen Jesus breaks the dark night. This is the reason for our hope. This is the foundation of our joy; a joy and peace that the world cannot give, but it is Jesus’ gift to us forever.
Dear friends, Jesus Christ is truly risen. Alleluia.
Our baptism – the action by which we are joined to Christ – is a sacrament of death and resurrection. “Brothers and Sisters,” St. Paul tells us, “Are you not aware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” The earthly self dies in baptism so that we can live a new spiritual life. We die to selfishness so that we can live in love, giving ourselves freely to others, and out of a motive of love for God. This is the formula for Christian life: die to self; live for God.
In a few moments we will carry this out in the Sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our baptismal promises. The renewal of baptism – throughout our diocese and throughout the world – takes place on Easter, because Easter is the mystery of the dead coming to life in Christ. Easter is the new beginning that the world needed after sin.
We make our Renewal of Baptism during the Year of Faith. This “Year” was proclaimed and begun by one Pope, and is taken up and continued by another. I dare say we could not have foreseen the events of the last weeks, but we do see the continuity of our Catholic faith and tradition. In his letter to announce the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict focused clearly on baptism: Baptism is the moment when we first share God’s life. It is a moment of entering into a covenant – a solemn agreement between God and me, between God and His people. I urge us all to reflect on and make more real each day, our Profession of Faith.
I believe in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe in Jesus: true God and true Man. I believe in the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church, in Holy Marriage, and Holy Orders; in the Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, in the forgiveness of sins. I believe in the Holy Spirit – Lord and Giver of life, Cause of Unity and Animator of the Church: Who sends us out in the work of evangelization and apostolic mission.
I believe in the moral law taught by Jesus and His apostles; in the value of every human life. I affirm all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches, and in the immutable rights of every person not to violate a well-formed conscience. These truths and beliefs are being threatened and we ask the guidance and fortitude and love of the Holy Spirit to be faithful.
When we make our Profession tonight and throughout the Year, we are asking God to confirm and strengthen our Faith as something real in our life. We are resolving to live in such a way as to bear witness to Jesus and to the eternal truth of the Gospel.
The power of the resurrection seals this claim. Jesus is truly risen, Alleluia, and we must be joined to Him if we are to live this eternal life.
Dear catechumens, dear candidates:
In just a few moments your salvation history will begin a new chapter: You will be joined to Jesus Christ in Baptism; you will be united more perfectly to Him in the Church.
In Confirmation you will be anointed with the Seven-fold Gift of the Holy Spirit to make you witnesses and missionaries for Christ in the world.
You will receive the Holy Eucharist, of which our Lord solemnly declared: “whosoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live forever and I will raise him up on the last day.” (Jn 6)
Don’t be afraid. Jesus Christ – the One who conquered death itself – will now perfect your human efforts through the mystery of His love.
As we have prayed for you, now take us with you! Help us to be better Catholics, more convinced than ever that the sacrifice – the carrying of the Cross for love’s sake – is worth the goal of life on high that has been won for us – once for all – in Jesus Christ.
With the whole Church we acclaim, He has been raised. With Mary, Queen of Heaven, and all the angels and Saints, we sing, Jesus Christ is truly risen. Alleluia!
A Blessed Easter to you all.