There is no mass on Holy Saturday, which means today’s readings will actually be heard tonight at the Easter Vigil. Because this is the highest of Christian holy feasts, there are a lot of readings. We start with the first creation account in Genesis (Genesis 1:1-2:2), where we hear that absolutely everything that is only is because it was created by God. Then follows the story of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18), where God tests the faith of Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son. The third reading is from Exodus (Exodus 14:15-15:1), where Moses parts the sea, and God sends a fiery cloud to keep the Egyptians at bay until the Israelites were able to safely cross. The next two readings are from Isaiah (Isaiah 54:5-14 & Isaiah 55:1-11), which seem as if a love song from God to men, promising his graces to us, if only we will remain faithful. The sixth reading is from Baruch is a call to conversion (Baruch 3:9-15, 32-38, 4:1-4), where we hear how we have “forsaken the fountain of wisdom,” and we are urged to “Turn, O Jacob, and receive her: walk by her light toward splendor.”
The seventh reading, from Ezekiel 36:16-28, is quite beautiful. Israel is God’s chosen people, and therefore they are the light to the nations, the emissary which gives other nations an idea of who God is. But they have profaned the name of God, by filling their lives with idols and pagan rituals. God tells Ezekiel that He will restore holiness to Israel, not for their sake, but for the sake of His name. “I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations, in whose midst you have profaned it. Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.” What follows here is God explaining how He will restore Israel to holiness. He “will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities” (sounds a lot like baptism, eh?). He “will put my spirit within you” (indwelling of the Holy Spirit, anyone?). It’s a wonderful reading, and I strongly recommend you give it a read.
Eighth we have Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 6:3-11), where Paul tells us that it is by our baptism that we die with Christ. We die to our sins, so that we might be raised up just as Jesus was raised. “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Finally we have the Gospel reading: the empty tomb narrative according to Mark (Mark 16:1-7). Similar to Matthew’s account of the same, the man they find in the tomb (who is not Jesus) tells them to go to Galilee, for their they will find Jesus. Why to Galilee? Because Galilee was the first place they encountered Christ, and thus they are being called to renew their response to the call that Christ first gave them: “Follow me.” Similarly, we as Christians all responded to that same call at some point in our lives, and we are thus called to return in our minds and in our hearts to that moment so that we might renew our response to Christ. This same idea or returning to our own Personal Galilee came up last Easter, and I wrote a more thorough post on it then. For now, I will leave you to ponder the readings for yourself, as we patiently await the resurrection of our Lord.