At our Easter Vigil service, we use fire and water that have great meaning. In my early days as a priest, I used to marvel at the fact that some people will not only take home the newly blessed water but also the newly blessed fire. I once asked some people what do they do with these elements when they reach home. The most common answers are that they light up the altar with this new fire and say a prayer; as for the water some said they would sprinkle their homes with it and some did say that they would add this water to their cooking tomorrow. I am sure many others have different reasons to do so but they all seem to point to the fact that we want to be blessed by God on this special day!

The prayers that accompany the blessing of fire and water indicate to us the symbolic meaning of these elements: firstly, our hearts must be inflamed with heavenly desires; secondly, washed clean by the water of Baptism, we are called to a life of holiness. Both these symbols remind us that we are called to set our hearts on God and strive to live as children of God despite the challenges of human life.

However, the question that we need to ask ourselves is, “What does Easter mean to ME?” Not “What is Easter?” or “Why do we celebrate Easter?” Because for the last 40+ days we have been preparing by denying ourselves of things, making the Lenten offering, going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and many other forms of preparations. So what does this mean to me? It cannot be just another celebration because there is no other celebration, liturgical or secular, that calls for such detailed preparation.

Let us first look at the disciples… what did the resurrection mean to them? It was a life changing moment. They did not understand all the times when Jesus said that He was doing to die. They had other expectations of Him. So at His death all hopes, confidence, dreams, aspirations died with Jesus. One can understand why they were not at Jesus’ side at His crucifixion.
The Resurrection of Jesus changed it all…new enthusiasm, new aspirations, new zeal…they could dream once again. It all happened within three days…wow it all happened in 3 days. Their lives were no longer the same.

In the early Church, the resurrection of Jesus gave them courage. It was a time when the Church was being persecuted by the Roman Empire. Many people were killed for professing their belief in Jesus but the fact that Jesus rose from the dead gave them courage that there is a “reward” in the new life: for example, St Stephen, the first martyr saying… “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56).

It is a special day indeed as today we celebrate the foundation of our faith. If the resurrection of Jesus did not happen, His death would be in vain: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith in vain” (1 Cor 15:14).

The Resurrection of Jesus made a difference to many people… there was CHANGE. What change does this event, which we consider the very foundation of our faith, bring to our life today? To our faith it makes a big difference because by His resurrection, death is no longer the end of everything, joy and hope came into the world (YOUCAT #108).

What changes today in our lives? With all that fasting, almsgiving, prayer, ashes on our foreheads… what changes today? If we are going to go back to our ordinary lives, back to our old ways, what does being here today mean? Change surely does not happen overnight. We may wish that it would happen like the disciples that in 3 days all would change but the reality is that change takes time. But that cannot be an excuse for not making an attempt to change. Nor can we say… I am only human! Change takes time and it requires loads of hard work and constant awareness. It is not that we do not want to change but we do not want to work at bringing a change. The disciples of Jesus were not perfect…probably not even till their death. But they worked hard and they had one goal… to live as Jesus did. Was it easy? Most probably not!

As I said earlier, we take home the fire and the water so that we may receive blessings from God. The very first change that we can attempt is to be a blessing to others. Wherever Jesus went, He was a source of blessing to others… to Bartimaeus the blind man, the Samaritan woman, to His disciples, to Zacchaeus, to the Centurion whose servant was ill, to Martha, Mary, & Lazarus and to so many others. His very presence and personhood was a blessing.

As imperfect as we may be, we can be a blessing to one another… we can start by looking beyond each other’s imperfections. That is exactly what Jesus did when He washed the feet of His disciples (knowing that Judas was going betray Him and that Simon Peter was going to deny Him), when He died on the Cross (He forgave His persecutors and loved the repentant thief). We spend too much time looking at the imperfections of others, talking about them, complaining about them so much that we fail to love and be a blessing to one another. The Resurrection of Jesus becomes a blessing to us when we in turn become a blessing to others.

Today God the Father blesses us with the Resurrection of His Son…let us go and be a blessing to one another and don’t forget to acknowledge those who are a blessing to you this Easter!