The Easter Vigil is packed with symbols that, if we let them, speak powerfully about our faith. They bring the past to the present and we are plunged into salvation history. Along with the readings these symbols remind us that we are part of an eternal story, God’s story.
For me, one of the strongest symbols is at the very beginning, when outside in darkness St. Dominic Parish lights the new Pascal Candle from a fire. As the candle is lit Father says “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.” Every year at that moment I am reminded of the other great Solemnity that uses light and dark – Christmas. Light amid the darkness is powerfully presented there as well; but whereas at Christmas I see the glory of God being born quietly, almost secretly into this world of darkness, to mankind who had no room at the inn for His entry; at the Easter Vigil (and every time this candle is lit) I am reminded and consoled that in spite of the darkness salvation powerfully entered the world – beyond any doubt. Entered to our knowledge is the King of the Universe rising from the dead for me, for us. Made known to the world is God’s eternal plan to bring us home to His side. Made manifest to us is the greatest joy – Love and its ultimate outcome. Revealed to each of us is our true worth: ‘I am God’s beloved.’
It is this message of hope and joy that the Church has been, with varying degrees of success, proclaiming for almost 2,000 years. Since that day of His resurrection Christ’s followers have felt the joy of God’s Love; since that day on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius Christian’s have made their own St. Peter’s words: “Lord, you know that I love you.” and have strived to live up to Christ’s command “Feed my sheep” Since those days in the Holy Land; we, who have seen this great light, go out and try to radiate it; spread this good news to those who still dwell in darkness.
I am constantly aware of almost 2,000 years of our ancestors who were given this great news and its commission, and followed Christ into the darkness holding His flame high. Through centuries of human triumphs and trials, our spiritual ancestors, holding fast to Christ and His message, have guaranteed that Christ is still shining brightly. They have, through great cost, fed His sheep by passing on the faith, living the Gospel, radiating the light of Easter.
As our parish celebrates its 50th anniversary Monday I am made even more aware of this mission as a continuation of those who entrusted it to us. I am humbled by the sacrifice and determination of those who started this parish; who built the school; built this church; who, as the disciples did in our gospel today, relied on Christ to guide the way. Who in their hearts trusted in the Lord’s wisdom and cast their nets to great results. Their gift to me gives me greater determination to make sure that their efforts; that the efforts of every faithful witness for the last 2 millennia, is passed on to those who come after us; because this gift wasn’t handed to us as a reward to keep and admire; but was given to us to pass on by radiating Christ’s light in our world, a world that, sadly, is still in darkness.
The Word of God has come and has spoken, He continues to come and speak; but the story of salvation is still being written with us as its current authors. This is our challenge, at the beginning of the third millennium of the Universal Church, at the threshold of the next 50 years of St Dominic Parish: what are we going to write with our witness in this eternal story? Is our narrative one of self-interest, inward isolation – is our answer to Christ we have no more room for Him or His people? Or do we write a narrative that, as apostles did in the first reading show that ‘We are witnesses of these things’; witnesses of the Lord and His love for everyone and our love for Him by loving everyone? Will our part of story be about Christian discipleship; proclaiming the good news, holding the flame of Easter high by living the faith given to us by our ancestors near and far, given to us by our Lord?
Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote in his great book Life of Christ: “When finally the scrolls of history are completed down to the last words in time, the saddest line of all will be: ’There was no room in the inn’” Brothers and sisters, let us make sure that along with these ‘saddest of words’, the words that we authored will echo St. Peter: “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”