I still remember my first Easter Vigil as we stood in the darkness of the chapel, only to be enveloped by the ever-growing light of all the candles lit from the Paschal candle. The receding darkness provided the setting for the Easter Proclamation: “Jesus Christ, our King, is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation! Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes forever!” Both liturgical action and proclamation announced that Christ is our light and that the light of Christ overcomes all darkness.
Paul, in our second reading, reminds us that we are “not of the night or of darkness” for we are “children of the light and children of the day.” Enlightened through our baptism, we are called to be light for our brothers and sisters. This can happen in very ordinary ways as we visit the sick, reach out to the lonely, donate food and clothing to the poor, work to change structures that are unjust, and pray for all in need. It is through these actions—small and large—that we bring light into the darkness of others, a light that can bring hope to others. As our gospel reminds us, God has given each of us gifts to be shared, not buried for safe keeping.
I recall a story from years ago about a famous Rabbi who asked his disciples when the moment comes when darkness is ended, and light begins. One student responded that it was that moment of dawn when one could discern the difference between a fig tree and an olive tree. Another student suggested that the moment when light begins is when, looking into the darkness, one could distinguish between a wolf and a dog. The Rabbi shook his head and noted that darkness ends and light begins when we encounter someone we have never met and see in this person our brother or sister. At this moment, darkness has ended, and light has begun.
As an Easter people, we have been enlightened by Christ, called to share this light with others. As Resurrectionists, we know that this is a dynamic, life-long process where we must constantly die to self-will and self-love—refusing to live in the darkness—to rise by the power of the Holy Spirit to a new life of love in Christ (Resurrectionist Constitutions, #1). It is this love—manifested in ordinary words and deeds—that will enlighten our world. May this light of Christ be kept burning brightly in all our hearts, words, and actions!