By JENNIFER BURGIN
At the end of four hundred and thirty years, all the hosts of the Lord left the land of Egypt on this very date. This was a night of Vigil for the Lord, as he led them out of the land of Egypt; so on this same night all the children of Israel must keep a vigil for the Lord throughout their generations.
I’ve read this passage from the Book of Exodus numerous times, yet the word "vigil" never jumped off the page until now. So many thoughts come to mind....
Traditionally, Catholics celebrate Saturday evening Vigil masses. We attend candlelight vigils in honor of the deceased, or we pray as a candle-holding community for social causes.
Parents know all too well the late night "vigil" as they wait for a teen that drags in way past curfew. A son or daughter sneaks in the backdoor. Uh oh! The living room lamp is on and an angry father sits on the couch with his arms crossed. Oops, I forgot all about the curfew, Dad!
A little boy reminds his mom to turn on the nightlight right before bedtime. In an imaginative vigil, he waits for his favorite Super Hero to arrive and destroy the evil Boogie Man hiding in the closet!
Remember the Bic lighter everybody used to carry to a rock concert? Now replaced by the mobile phone's glowing screen, hundreds of fans wave their phones in the air whistling and yelling. Encore! We want to hear an encore! Come back out and sing to us some more!
We cannot forget the lighthouse which seafarers rely on for navigation. The swirling light is seen for miles away in dense fog, successfully alerting ships before they crashonto land.
Keeping vigil shines a light source in the darkness; keeping vigil consists of waiting, preparing, and protecting. We anticipate something good arriving or fear something bad occurring. Other times, lamentations swell our hearts as we mourn the tragic loss of a group of loved ones.
The most familiar vigil scene in the bible is when the maidens keep their oil lamps lit anxiously awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom. Unfortunately, a few maidens did not carry along enough oil. They were ill-prepared so naturally their lamps burned out. Their vigil abruptly ended. They are left out of the celebration in the presence of the bridegroom....We know the bridegroom represents Jesus Christ himself.
All children of Israel must keep vigil for the Lord throughout their generations. Are we doing this in modern day? Are we preparing our hearts, minds and souls for the second coming of the Lord? Are we doing all we can to brighten our lives so that others see the shining light of Christ in us? Are we protecting and helping others who struggle with darkness?
Light a candle. Say a prayer. Patiently wait. Prepare for eternal rewards. Keep Christ close to your heart!
"I believe in God - not in a Catholic God; there is no Catholic God. There is God, and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator. This is my Being." - Pope Francis