The biblical, liturgical, and even scientific parallels between the Christian celebration of Easter and the Jewish feast of Passover are many. But perhaps the most famous modern catechesis on the Paschal Vigil as a reliving of the history of salvation is Saint Pope John Paul II’s 2002 Easter Vigil homily on “the three nights of Easter.”

The first night, the pope explained, is the night of creation, when “the divine Word called into existence all things and, in Jesus, became flesh for our salvation. And if the destiny of the first Adam was to return to the earth from which he had been made, the last Adam has come down from heaven in order to return there in victory, the first-fruits of the new humanity.”

The second night is the night of the Exodus, when the Jewish people miraculously passed through the Red Sea as they fled Egypt. 

“The People of God was born from this ‘baptism’ in the Red Sea, when it experienced the powerful hand of the Lord who snatched it from slavery in order to lead it to the yearned-for land of freedom, justice and peace,” the Polish pontiff explained. 

Then there was the third night, “the night of nights, the night of faith and of hope”: the night of the Resurrection. 

“On this most holy night, when Christ rose from the dead, you too will experience a spiritual ‘exodus’: leave behind your former life and enter the ‘land of the living.’ ”

Pablo Kay is the editor of Angelus. 

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