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Easter Vigil Mass Sermon
10th April 2004 St. Mary’s Cathedral
The first part of the Easter Vigil is the Liturgy of Light. We start with the lighting of the Paschal Candle. This represents the victory of the Risen Lord over evil and sin, death and darkness. Each one of us receives from the Paschal Candle light for the small candles that we hold in our hands. This is symbolic of us receiving the Resurrection faith and shining forth the light of Christ in the world. As Christians, we are called to be witnesses to the Resurrection of Christ. We are not the source of light, and cannot generate the light by ourselves, but in receiving the light from Christ, we can let that light shine forth around us.
Today we have a baptism ceremony within the mass. During the ceremony, at one time the candidates for baptism receive the light from the Paschal Candle. Most importantly this reveals the new candidates as witnesses to the Resurrection of Christ.
In truth, through baptism we enter into the Resurrection of Christ. Christ passed over from death on the cross to the glory of the Resurrection. In receiving baptism, we are joined with Christ both in his death and in his new life. This is the true meaning of baptism.
We can only be baptized once in our lives, it cannot be repeated. However the meaning of baptism must be continually renewed throughout our lifetime. The mystery of new life, passing over from death to resurrection, is the Way that the Christian must walk all one’s life. In order to definitely enter into the Resurrection, we must endlessly die to our old selves and be reborn with new life. This is the task for our life time. People lives grow through receiving the Spirit of Christ and being led by the Spirit. From this year’s Easter Vigil ceremony, I acknowledge the following task. “Become witnesses to the Resurrection by renewing your life everyday”. I earnestly pray that the Holy Spirit will always shine upon us and give us unending strength.
Peter OKADA Takeo Archbishop of Tokyo