LABADIE: Let all corners of the earth be glad

April 13, 2021

Every year at the Easter Vigil, we hear the great prayer of the Easter Proclamation, commonly called the Exsultet, in which the Church recalls the long story of salvation.

We are reminded that our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise that God first made to the Jewish people. We recall the story of the first Passover when God led the Israelites out of slavery. And then we hear how Christ has conquered sin and death once and for all. After our Lenten journey, it is the moment when we celebrate “our mighty King’s triumph!”

When I hear the Exsultet, I am often struck by a different line each time. This year, I heard anew the line, “let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness.”

This is the second Easter that we have celebrated under the cloud of COVID-19. There have been times of severe gloom over the past 13 months as sickness, depression, unemployment and isolation have gripped our world. We have known great darkness with nearly 3 million people dead. At times during this pandemic, it may have seemed like we would never be free from its grip.

Yet, how many times have we thought the same thing about some sin that seemed to have control over our lives? Just as we are reminded time and again that Jesus has won the victory over sin, we must take solace in the hope that there will be a victory over this pandemic.

As we enter into this Easter season, we are beginning to see signs of hope. Doses of the vaccines are being rolled out at ever greater speeds, appointment slots are filling and waiting lists are getting smaller.

We have begun to see a rollback of restrictions as more people receive their shots, and we are now able, in limited circumstances, to gather once again without masks. “Let all corners of the earth be glad,” we were told at the Easter Vigil. The gloom and darkness of the pandemic have begun to lift — life is slowly returning to some semblance of pre-COVID normalcy.

Our “resurrection” from this extended Lent of the pandemic should be a time for us to reevaluate our commitment to the Christian life.

The Exsultet tells us, “This is the night, when Christ broke the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld.”

As we begin to break free from the pandemic and rise to a new reality, what will we do differently? How will we treat those around us differently? How will we approach our prayer life differently? When Christ rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples, it changed them forever.

They could not continue on in the same way that they had done before because they had experienced a change in their reality — death no longer had the final word. We have experienced a change in our reality these past months, the reality of how we live and work and worship.

But this pandemic does not have the final word. May we work together to find the new way forward, filled with the hope of the resurrection.

Christ is risen. Alleluia! He is risen indeed. Alleluia! 

Chris Labadie is an associate director for Liturgical Formation with the Office of Worship.