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The Easter ‘Exsultet’ empowers parishes to do justice

Deacon Scholl is the archdiocesan consultant for social justice. You can email him at:

by Deacon Bill Scholl

This Holy Saturday in parishes all across our archdiocese, a deacon’s voice will sing out in the darkness.

Illuminated only by the lights from the Easter candle, he will sing the “Exsultet,” the Easter Proclamation: “Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven . . . sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!”

It is a special liturgical prayer for the most special of liturgical events — the commemoration of our Lord’s resurrection in the night. The “Exsultet” enjoins us to put the victory of the resurrection into practice. We are the light of Christ, and parishes bring this light by doing justice in their communities.

The deacon proclaims: “The sanctifying power of this night dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.”

Certainly, this transformation begins personally in our hearts. But it must not stop there. Jesus has risen so that all might be saved, and those blessed with his light must share it, lest it flicker out. At some point, this personal conversion must translate into public, concrete acts of love that transform our communities.

Those who hold the light of the resurrection are called to proclaim Christ’s victory over death by confronting in their communities the systems that bring about darkness.

In our discipleship of the resurrected Jesus, we are called to live into our sacramental grace, to proclaim the Gospel and to practice the heroic love of Christ. Jesus has taught us that this love begins and abides in the works of mercy, but that this love must pass over into his struggle for justice.

Does the resurrection only tell our neighbors about life everlasting, so we may neglect their suffering here? No, the resurrection impels us to cry out, “Heaven is here now! Let me show you.”

By the power of the Holy Spirit we make heaven’s kingdom come on earth by contending with wickedness, hatred, discordance and mighty powers that perpetuate injustice in our communities.

These mighty powers tried to kill Christ and for a time prevailed, but by God they failed.

So, in this Easter season, let us be empowered by the joyful news of the “Exsultet”: “Let the earth be glad,” and let her be glad through us. “As glory floods her, ablaze with the light of her eternal King,” let us be that fiery flood as we work to make our communities better places to live for all who live there.

We are enlightened by the wisdom of Christ’s kingship, and our parishes bring the king best when we work for justice.

About the author

Deacon Bill Scholl

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