|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Light of the Christ
There is a story told of a 19th century municipal worker, who worked nights as a lamp-lighter. In those days, lamp-lighters, would go from light-to-light-to-light to turn on the street lights by literally turning on the gas and igniting the flames in each of the lamps. At the end of the night, it was their job to extinguish the gaslights.
Once this particular municipal worker was asked by a reporter, “Don’t you find your job difficult that you have to go out in the middle of the night when it is cold and damp?” The old man said, “No. No. There is always a light in front of me that I must move to extinguish.” The reporter replied back, tersely saying “What about the last light? When you put out the last light then what?” The old man smiled and said, “Ahh, but then the dawn appears.”
At the Easter Vigil in the dark of the night, we celebrate the coming of Christ, the Dawn of Salvation. The prophets foretold of him and each one of them was a light along the way that lit the way for humanity through the darkness; sometimes in the darkest of our times. Now the dawn arrived and a new day had come in Christ Jesus. We were born into newness of light and life.
The fire of Easter Vigil symbolizes the light of Christ and each of us is given a light. We are called to keep that light of Christ burning. We are called to witness to the new dawn. The Easter fire and light symbolizes that the love of God in Christ conquers the darkness. No matter how dark the night becomes, it is always overcome by the dawning of a new day. That is what the cross symbolizes. The cross symbolizes that darkness and how death has lost its power because the power of light of love.
The newly initiated members of the Church have followed somebody else’s light until tonight and now they discover their own path to Christ’s light. They become members of this Body of Christ. Now it becomes their role to pass that light of Christ to others.
Jesus tells us the simplest way to pass that light is to it is love one another. It is that gentle touch; it is that kind word; it is the encouraging word that helps the person, who is firmly planted in the dark of night and we hand them the candle of love that says continue to believe. I am with you; I believe in you.
Remember the darkest hour of night is always the last hour before dawn. It is in that hour that we are called to shine the brightest. We must hold vigil no matter how dark our nights get. We are called to testify to Christ. And we do it in simple ways but we must believe in it and that belief is actually demonstrating the joy of the Gospel. We ought to be on fire with God’s love. We ought to be full of joy; we ought to be people who really believe in that message.