The light of Christ shines brightly through the darkness

The Paschal Candle is lit to remind us of this eternal light. Other than lighting our darkness, the heat of the flame also “burns” away what is impure in our hearts and souls.

Apr 09, 2023

Reflecting on our Sunday Readings with Fr Philip Tay, OCD

Lord’s Resurrection (A)
Readings: Acts of the Apostle 10:34, 37-43
Colossians 3:1-4;
Gospel: John 20:1-9

In 2017, the DCEU (The DC Extended Universe) released a movie titled The Justice League. At the end of that movie, Lois Lane, the love interest of Superman, gave a short exposition as a conclusion to the movie. This is what she said, “Darkness, the truest of darkness, is not the absence of light. It is the conviction that the light will never return. But the light always returns, to show us things familiar — home, family and things entirely new or long overlooked. It shows us new possibilities and challenges us to pursue them. This time, the light shone on the heroes, coming out of the shadows to tell us that we won’t be alone again. Our darkness was deep and seemed to swallow all hope, but these heroes were here the whole time to remind us that hope is real, that you can see it. All you have to do is look.”

What does this have to do with our celebration of Easter? For the past three years, we’ve lived through a sort of darkness, the sort that nearly paralysed our lives and destroyed our hope. Many people were nearly convinced that there would never be a light at the end of the tunnel. Now, we emerge once again into the light of life. It’s not that the light abandoned us, it is just that we were not able to recognise it in our lives. But as Lois Lane says, the light always returns to show us things familiar, things that we have overlooked during the darker times in our lives. This light, unlike the one mentioned in the Justice League movie, is none other than the light of Christ that comes to us every Easter.

Light and water are central elements of our Easter celebration. The light of Christ shines out brightly through the darkness of our lives to bring to light what is hidden deep in ourselves. The Paschal Candle is lit to remind us of this eternal light. Other than lighting our darkness, the heat of the flame also “burns” away what is impure in our hearts and souls. As humans, we have to acknowledge that we always fall short of the glory of God and, very often, we live lives that are not in conformity with what God commanded us to do. Just like wax that is melted away from the candle, the heat from this flame, which is the pure light of God, “burns” away what is not pure within us so that we can emerge as children of the light rather than as children of the world or children of darkness.

Of course, once these impurities are “melted” away from us, there has to be some means to cleanse it properly. This is where the waters of Baptism come into play. The water that we bless during the Easter Vigil is not just used for the Sacraments of Initiation, it is also sprinkled on us as part of the Easter Liturgy. Other than reminding us of our Baptism, it also “washes” away all the impurities that came from the heat of the flame of the Paschal Candle. This double effect of flame and water helps us to emerge out of the darkness of Lent and into the wonderful light of Easter, to remind us that we will never be alone. The hope that the light of Easter brings is real but are we able to see it as something real in our lives or are we just going through the motions of the celebration? If we truly believe in the hope of Easter, then the Paschal Candle is there to constantly remind us that the hope that it brings is entirely real and not a figment of our imagination.

As Andy Dufresne states so aptly in the movie The Shawshank Redemption, ‘hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.’ We can find real hope if we know where to look; if we look for hope in the things of this world, then our hope will be nothing but a fleeting emotion. If, however, we look to Christ as our source of hope, then it is a hope that will never die because Jesus gave us the promise that He will be always with us until the end of time. That is a comforting thought indeed because it is with this hope that we continue our journey on this pilgrimage of life, until we reach our heavenly homeland.

Wishing all of you a blessed Easter.

Fr Philip Tay OCD is the assistant priest in the Church of the Visitation, Seremban.

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