Updated: Apr 29
Easter Vigil begins with the service of light. The Paschal candle is lit up and the priest says, "May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds." The Great Paschal Candle Light alone shines. The Easter proclamation (Exultet) captures the mood, "Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes forever!" That’s the message of Easter night, that Christ the Lord has broken the chains of death. Death has been rendered powerless by Christ’s resurrection.
God says in the beginning, “Let there be light. God sees that light is good and separates light from darkness (Gen.1:3-7). In the Exodus account, God forms a pillar of fire in the night to shield the Israelites. God's light surrounds his people to deliver them. God's light has an eternal victory over darkness.
In the Holy week, darkness does everything to quench this light. Betrayal tries to overturn trust. Hatred attempts to ridicule love. Rumors battle to influence judgment. Injustice intimidates fairness. Conspiracy mocks confidence. Anxiety and panic incite false witnesses. On Good Friday, wailing and crying take to the streets. The innocent is condemned in place of criminals. The authority that should defend truth questions truth’s credibility, “Truth, what is that?” (Jn.18:38). The gospel remarks, "The sun's light failed, so that darkness came over the whole land" (Lk.23:44). But this was Good Friday. The death of Jesus allows a momentary victory to darkness, to establish God’s eternal victory at the end. Joy always comes in the morning.
Tonight, we celebrate the true victory, the reign of Light, “…life that was the light of men; and light that shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it" (Jn.1:4). The resurrection morning takes evil men unawares because God’s light shines not by any human making. The centurion and those guarding Jesus exclaim, "Surely he was the Son of God!" (Matt. 27:54).
The message of Easter Vigil testifies to the power of light. Jesus is not in the tomb anymore, so where is He? He is risen, now is in your heart. The Light is on for you! Light shines brightly for everyone to embrace it. Light is on in families, in relationships. Light is on in the world. Light has to keep shining. We are today’s Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James. We are today’s Salome, witnesses to the risen Lord. Christ conquers death, His glory is meant to permeate into our wounded corners. Spiritual, physical, and psychological darkness should all vanish.
Again, Christ says, "I am the light of the world, anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). With the Psalm we sing, "In your light, Lord, we see light" (Ps.36:9). With Easter, the faces of God’s people are never covered in shame. The Easter Vigil marks a great history in the lives of believers because by His resurrection, we are not subject to shame, pain, and fear anymore. Christ frees us from darkness and death. Christ frees us from sin and iniquity. Christ frees us from hatred and lack of forgiveness. Christ frees us from addiction, anxiety, depression, and any form of emotional, physical, and spiritual insecurity. Christ ignites love, compassion, sincerity, fairness, and peace. Children of light are bold to proclaim that Christ has truly risen. On this resurrection morning, we are proud to shout once again, Alleluia… Amen!