CHARLOTTE — “The risen Christ says apply my victory to each one, and baptize them.”
This was the message proclaimed by Bishop Peter Jugis April 15 as he celebrated the Easter vigil Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral, which was filled with young and old at dusk to greet the Light of the World.
The liturgy began with the blessing of the Paschal fire and lighting of the Paschal candle at the Marian grotto outside the cathedral. Then the hundreds of faithful processed behind Bishop Jugis – candles in hand – into the darkened cathedral to hear the Exsultet chanted.
After the Scripture readings and psalms, the cathedral’s lights were turned on and bells were rung as the faithful sang the Gloria.
“The resurrection of Jesus from the dead, easily the greatest of all the miracles that Jesus performed, raising himself from the dead,” Bishop Jugis said in his homily. “The gospel readings give us the eye-witness accounts of those who saw Jesus nailed on to the cross. And then saw Him die on the cross, breathe his last, and then saw him buried.”
And then the gospels go on to give the eye-witness accounts who saw the risen Christ with their own eyes, who not only saw him but spoke with him, carried on conversations with him, touched him with their own hands and ate with him, Jugis said.
“The resurrection is real. The eye-witness accounts that we have verify Jesus is risen from the dead. Jesus came to our rescue and he saved us,” he continued in his homily. “We all know what I means to help someone, to come to someone’s rescue. When someone has been hurt or injured or maybe in distress of any kind. “He cries out help me, help me, come save me.” Possibly you’ve had that experience of coming to someone’s rescue.”
Jesus came to our rescue when the whole human race was crying out “Help us, help us. We’re lost. Rescue us from all this sin. Save us. Rescue us,” Jugis said.
“And he did rescue us, and that is what we are celebrating this evening. He rescued us from his resurrection. He broke that stranglehold that sin and death had upon us, and he gave us new life. His resurrection is his answer to our cry for help. And here it is the resurrection of Jesus and his promise of our own future resurrection from the dead.”
Bishop Jugis went on to explain that because of that resurrection, baptism is our entrance into the victory of Christ.
“Why do we baptize? The answer really is quite simple and the answer is that it’s enough that the risen Christ told us to. The risen Christ tells his disciples to go forth and heed all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” Jugis continued.
“How is the Lord’s victory over sin and death going to arrive at an interior of our being? It would have to be through some grace which he was going to communicate to us to take the victory of the resurrection, the triumph over sin and death and then actually get it to be applied personally to each individual person. And it’s his design to be through the grace of baptism.”
“The risen Jesus having won the victory then tells his disciples you are then to apply this victory to the whole human race. Baptize them and through that baptism, through those blessed waters which shall contain his grace.”
That’s how Jesus saw fit to bring it personally into the interior of every person, Jugis said.
“A real cleansing from sin takes place through the grace of baptism,” he said before welcoming one catechumen at the vigil Mass, giving them the sacraments of initiation – baptism, confirmation and Holy Communion.
— Catholic News Herald Photos by John Cosmas, correspondent.