Saturday, 15 April 2017
Light, Easter Vigil
Tonight I wish to speak about the significance of the resurrected Christ as our LIGHT.
Our ritual, our prayers, and our Scripture readings all speak of light.
Let me start by speaking of the opposite of light, namely, darkness.
The fear of the dark is one of the most basic of human fears. We fear the dark for many reasons: it leaves us unable to see the things that we need, it leaves us unable to function, it hides things, and, as psychologists note, we fear the dark because we fear what can lie hidden in it.
If darkness is one of the basic human fears, the reaction of relief that comes when a light is finally turned on is similarly one of the most basic human reactions. Light shows us reality, it enables us to function, it exposes problems, and of course, light gives life to the natural world -plants grow because of it.
What we celebrate tonight is that light triumphed over darkness.
The Gospels record that when Christ died on Calvary darkness covered the earth (Mt 27:45, Mk 15:22, Lk 23:44). We can note that this presence of darkness at His death was symbolic of the triumph of all that causes fear in us.
But the triumph of darkness was only brief.
What was revealed Easter night was the truth that a greater power had been at work throughout, and that the one who allowed Himself to be put to death was indeed, as He had claimed, “the light of the world”(Jn 8:12).
Tonight’s liturgy tells us more than the simple fact that darkness failed to conquer the light.
It tells us, rather, that the brief triumph of darkness over the light was destined to be illusionary, that the light was always going to triumph.
When I blessed the Easter Candle, outside, the prayer declared that Christ, the light, is “the Alpha and the Omega” -Greek words taken from the book of Revelation, words that Jesus says of Himself: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end”(Rev 21:17-18; 22:13 c.f.1:8).
Those words declaring Him to be “the beginning” should remind us of the words we heard in the Creation account from Genesis, where God’s first creative words were, “Let there be light”(Gen 1:3).
We can also recall words that we didn’t hear tonight, that the book of Revelation declares that at the end of time, when Christ returns in glory, “There will be no more night… for the Lord God will shine on them”(Rev 22:5).
He was light in the beginning, He will be light at the end, and He triumphed over the darkness in His resurrection.
It is no insignificant fact that the Gospels record that it was during the NIGHT that He burst from the tomb.
In our own lives we all have moments, sometimes prolonged periods, when it feels that we are in darkness, when it seems that we cannot see the way, when the fear that comes with darkness overwhelms us.
What we recall tonight is that the light is greater than the darkness.
Whenever we find ourselves in darkness we have reason to be confident in turning to “the light”: He has shown that He is greater than anything we might fear.
His light exposes our problems, rather than letting them be hidden.
His light exposes that the traps the Evil One lays for us are less frightening than the darkness make them seem.
His light enables us to see the way, “the way” that is Himself.
And, His light, as in the natural world, His light gives life to our souls.
As the priest’s words prayed when lighting the paschal candle from the fire, “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds”.