Alleluia! How good it is for us once again to sing this song of Easter victory. Having fasted from this word throughout Lent, resuming its usage should fill out hearts with joy as we recall the victory of light over darkness in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. During these next 50 days of the Easter Season, this light will shine brightly in the form of the Easter Candle, placed prominently in the sanctuary near the ambo where the Good News of Easter is proclaimed in the Scriptures.
For those who were at the Easter Vigil, this theme of light was present throughout the liturgy. I never cease to be moved by the scene of the newly-lit Easter Candle entering into the darkened Cathedral. When the deacon chanted for the first time: “The Light of Christ”, we responded with a resounding “Thanks be to God!” We thank God because this light reminds us that in the midst of the darkness of the world in which we find ourselves, Christ’s light of hope, Christ’s light of victory burns undimmed, inviting us to follow that light as He continues to lead us. This is expressed in the words that the bishop said as he lit the candle from the blessed Easter fire: “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.”
On this day, we are reminded that, as Christians, we should never succumb to despair in the face of evil, suffering, or sorrow, for Christ has transformed death into life and defeat into victory. Yet, we still find ourselves going through life as though we do not really believe this. There is still doubt in our hearts because we do not see the victory taking hold. We continue to see war and strife, oppression, persecution, hatred, pain, and darkness all around us. We look at the circumstances in our lives, in the world, and the Church, wondering what the outcome might be. Will good win out over evil or not?
As I said, as Christians there is no room for us to doubt what the outcome will be. The outcome has already been decided. This victory of the Resurrection was one that He won not just for Himself, but for us, to set us free from sin and death, and to give us the gift of eternal life. When we are confronted with darkness, as we are each day, the Lord invites us to turn to the light of Christ, burning from the Easter Candle, but more importantly, burning in our hearts by virtue of our Baptism, the gift which marked us as recipients of His victory. In that light we receive strength to press forward in hope, following His light. But this victory is not something the Lord will force upon us. He will only grant it to those who desire it. And if we desire it, we commit to following the only path that will guarantee it – fidelity to His teaching and His Church. If we think we can reach victory by another way, we have been deceived by one of the many false lights that promise hope, but in the end, only lead to defeat. May we not fall victim to these false, worldly lights, but keep our eyes fixed on the true light of Christ who will lead us on to victory!