“What shall we do?” those in Jerusalem who hear Peter ‘s witness to the Risen Jesus ask. “Repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus so that your sins will be forgiven and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Peter responds. (Acts 2,38)
Now at the Easter Vigil we baptize those who hear the Easter message for the first time and we who are already baptized renew our baptismal commitment. We ask forgiveness for our sins and a greater openness to the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We’re reading these days (http://www.universalis.com/readings.htm) from the wonderful catechetical sermons of Cyril, the 4th century bishop of Jerusalem, which he gave to the newly baptized of his community, in the great church of the Anastasis, built over the tomb of Jesus and the rock of Calvary. Today it’s called the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Those being baptized were led down into a pool of water to symbolically die and rise in the very place where Jesus died and rose again. What a powerful experience that must have been!
They were anointed as they came from the baptismal pool. The Holy Spirit was given to them.
Cyril explains that this is the same Spirit who rested on Jesus when he came from the Jordan. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor.”
It’s “the oil of gladness,” Cyril says, “ a source of spiritual joy.” “Rejoice,” is a word you hear over and over in the gospel, especially at Easter. Before you run off to do anything, take time to rejoice and don’t stop rejoicing.
I watched Susan Boyle, the wonderful 47 year old woman from Scotland, who sings like an angel and looks like a nobody. Over 2 million have watched her so far on Youtube sing on Britains Got Talent 2009. Look at the joy that pours out of her.
Yes, she’s got a wonderful voice, but see her joy.