The feast of the Resurrection expresses the very heart of Christian faith. In Jesus Christ, God is victorious over death.
The feast begins on Saturday night. The faithful gather outside the place of prayer. A fire is prepared and the Easter candle is brought which has been prepared especially for the occasion. The priest begins with words of explanation: on this night Jesus passes over from death to life. He then blesses the fire and lights the candle and the faithful, each holding a candle, receive the light from the Easter candle. In procession, the assembly enters into a dark church and the priest sings a special hymn for Easter: "Rejoice heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels! Exult all creation around God'sd throne!... Accept this Easter candle... let it mingle with the lights of heaven... to dispel the darkness of this night!"
The readings on this night are many because the Church seeks to sum up the history of salvation up to this moment of the victory over death, darkness and sin. The Church proposes the following readings: the creation story (Genesis 1:1-2:2), the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18), the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 14:15-15:1), readings from the prophets (Isaiah 54:4-14, Isaiah 55:1-11, Baruch 3:9-15.32-4:4, Ezekiel 36:16-28), from the Apostle Paul (Romans 6:3-11) and this year (Year B) the narrative of the discovery of the empty tomb from the Gospel of Mark. The readings conclude with a joyous singing of Hallelujah, the first time that this is sung since the beginning of the Lenten fast.
After the homily that explains the importance of the readings and the centrality of the feast, the community renews its baptismal covenant. This is a preferential moment to receive new members into the community who now receive the sacrament of baptism by water. As the Apostle Paul wrote: "3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his" (Romans 6).
In this celebration, the great joy of the resurrection of Jesus begins. This joy is at the center of Christian life. This is the Gospel (the Good News): Death has been vanquished! God does not and will not allow death to rule the world. In the Eastern liturgy the refrain that is sung in the Easter season is: "Christ is risen from the dead! Vanquished death through death! He bestowed life on those in the tombs."