Easter: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

In his Easter Vigil homily, Bishop Burbidge explains that through His Resurrection, God dispels the darkness and brings us to the light.

By: Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington

Recently, a very observant individual asked me why I wear my glasses at certain times but not at others. I explained that it is all about the lighting and the brightness of the sanctuary or the room. In other words, it is all determined by the light. He said, “Isn’t that true for all of us?”

The response implied the difference in our lives between light and darkness, which is at the heart of the celebration of the Easter Vigil.

We began in darkness, symbolizing the darkness of our world, of which we are sadly especially aware due to recent attacks, violence and threats. We are aware of the darkness due to the lack of reverence for all human life and the dignity for all persons. We also know the darkness of our own lives due to our sins and the chaos that surrounds us.

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Acknowledging the darkness in our world, nation and lives is a moment of grace. For then we recognize our total dependency on Christ, the Light of the World. Therefore, at the beginning of this Liturgy, we blessed the fire and lit the paschal candle, symbolizing that Jesus Christ has dispelled the power of darkness. Thus, the words of the Easter Proclamation sung beautifully by our deacon made this exhortation: Exult, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom…for we stand in the awesome glory of Christ’s holy light.

The power of God to make all things bright and radically new was proclaimed in our readings tonight: The Old Testament revealed how God, in the act of creation, transformed chaos to order; how He miraculously delivered His people from Egypt and led them from slavery to freedom. The New Testament proclaimed Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises, the One who was raised from the dead, who places a new spirit within us and tells us “Do not be afraid: for He has triumphed over sin, suffering and even death itself!”

What does that mean for us? It means that we and the world around us do not have to remain the same. With Christ our Light, we see who we should be and can be and recognize the power we have to transform the world in which we live. It means that no sin can paralyze us. With Christ our Light, we are set free. It means that we do not have to live in chaos. With Christ our Light, we can walk in serenity. And so tonight, the Church invites us to renew our baptismal promises and pledge “to live as children of the light.” We do so when we consistently practice our faith; turn to the Word of God for our guidance; find our strength in the sacraments; and love, serve and forgive one another.

It is such witness that, no doubt, helped to inspire those who will be baptized, confirmed and received into full communion with the Church tonight. We congratulate them, their godparents, sponsors and families; thank them for the inspiration they are to all of us; and assure them of our prayers.

Dear friends in Christ, it is all determined by the Light! You will help others to see better and to recognize who they truly are in the sight of God, if the Light of Christ radiates in and through you. May you be renewed in that commitment so that in word and deed you proclaim that Jesus Christ is risen today, the Light who has dispelled the darkness and the One who offers us newness of life both now and forever. Amen.


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