Our Glow in the Gloom
Homily for Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
Preached on March 30-31, 2013 at Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
Readings for the Easter Vigil: Genesis 1:1-2:2; Psalm 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35; Genesis 22:1-18; Psalm 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11; Exodus 14:15-15:1; Exodus 15:1-2, 304, 5-6, 17-18; Isaiah 54:5-14; Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13; Isaiah 55:1-11; Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6; Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4; Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11; Ezekiel 36:16-28; Psalm 42:3, 5; 43:3, 4; Romans 6:3-1; Psalm 118:11-2, 16-17, 22-23; Luke 24:1-12
Readings for the Day: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9
As soon as it gets dark outside, the luminous stained glass windows of our Daily Mass Chapel fade into the shadows. We can hardly perceive the pictures they portray; their shaded panes prevent us from seeing what is on the other side. Fortunately there are spotlights that will help our eyes focus on to the image of the Crucified Christ even when the chapel is cloaked in darkness. It is a stirring sight in a shrouded sanctuary: a glimpse of the sadness and solitude of the Savior who prayed at Golgotha the words of the twenty-second psalm: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1; cf. Mt. 27:46; Mk. 14:34).
Once the first rays of dawn pierce through those colored slabs of glass, we see the rest of the story. The Cross of Christ stands in the middle of the history of salvation as the most visible and tangible proof that our God in His undying love was willing to die for us. The radiant panes of glass on both sides of that Cross recount the pains that the Lord had gone through in every generation to bring us back to Himself.
There are two windows that flank that Cross in the chapel: the left trace the Testament of Old, the right the Testament that is New. The passages proclaimed during the Easter Vigil figure prominently in the Old Testament windows. At the top panel we see the hand of God clothing the sky with stars (cf. Gn. 1:14-17). Right below it are Abraham’s knife, the fuel for his sacrifice, and the sheep that the Lord had provided for the burnt offering (cf. Gn. 22:6, 8, 13). Then, there is the sea split in two with its path through which the children of Israel passed from slavery dry-shod (cf. Ex. 14:16, 21-22). Finally, at the bottom panel, the symbols of the prophets recall the words of Isaiah, Baruch, and Ezekiel who called the wayward back to God (cf. Is. 54:6), the thirsty and the hungry to the water and food that do not fail to satisfy (cf. Is. 55:1-2), the exiles home to the Promised Land (cf. Ez. 36:24).
But, all of these only foreshadow what would be fulfilled in Christ in the New Testament. He alone makes sense to the stories of the Testament of Old. He who had called the light ‘day’ in the beginning (cf. Gn. 1:5) is the One who later calls forth the light of a new day. He is the sheep provided by God (cf. Gen. 22:8), the Son whom the Father did not spare from the sacrifice of the Cross (cf. Rom. 8:32), the Lamb of God who has taken the place of every descendant of Abraham. He is the One who leads us through the waters of baptism, from a slavery to sin to the freedom of the children of God (cf. Rom. 8:21). He is the One whom the prophets had foretold (cf. Acts 10:43): the babe in the manger who is the Word made flesh (Jn. 1:14).
The morning of the Risen Son sheds light through those chapel windows to all that came before and everything else that follows. Easter morning enlightens the world about the mystery of the Cross. The Cross of Christ is revealed by the Resurrection as the key which unlocks both what the old had prefigured and prophesied and what the Lord promises us for the future. The Cross is what had unbolted the entrance to Eden that was once sealed by the tombstone of sin. Without that Cross in that chapel, those painted panes seem to be a mere chronology of God’s wondrous works in bygone days. But, with it in the middle, we see how Christ took the past, the present, and the future to Himself on Calvary: with His Death and Resurrection He gave birth to a new life (cf. 1 Pt. 1:3) and has remade us who are but “dust and to dust [we] shall return” (Gn. 3:19) into a phoenix rising to everlasting life.
Yet, this dim world we live in would much rather prefer to dispatch those words and works of our God to the shadows; it would rather leave them obscured like those chapel windows at night. Our call then as Christians is to illuminate our Church from within so that all who pass by the gloomy road of life might notice this place lit up by the tapers that we had received at our baptism, those same candles that we carry at every Easter Vigil, the flames of our Faith that flicker when alone but when gathered together brighten even the darkest corners. Perhaps, seeing our glow in the gloom, those passing by will come to check out this Church on a hill and find within it a people who are not dead but rather “living for God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11)