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Rejoice! The Light Shines On!

April 3, 2013 2 comments

Easter Vigil Homily Rev. Peter M. Gdula
Rejoice! Rejoice! Heavenly hosts and choirs of angels!
Rejoice! All the round earth!
Rejoice! Mother Church!
Rejoice! And let the trumpets shout – and the people sing praises – for darkness has been vanquished –and the proof is right here in this very church!
It may have been difficult at times to see reason for rejoicing as of late. For we’ve encountered a few challenges of our own. The penitential season of Lent can be draining enough for us. Not only have we travelled with Jesus during these 40 days through various services and programs here at St. Luke’s, mulling over the scriptures with the Prophet’s gloomy visions and the Gospel’s tales of a coming sacrifice; we’ve met in book studies on the seven last words of Christ, and meditated on the Stations of the Cross – wrestling with the meaning of Jesus’s death by putting ourselves in the shoes of those who witnessed the crucifixion.
This time has seen other challenges that might have us wondering why we should rejoice. For not only had our prayer and worship life shifted to one of penance and deepened reflection on making internal shifts of awareness, we as a church and community found ourselves meeting the demands of real life events that further challenge us to rise up from a perceived darkness in every way we can.
We might have been asking…”what more could there be?” Yet while we think we may not have a reason to rejoice, others in the world outside of this corner lot are crying out themselves, in their own darkness, in their own changes that have put them in their own sorrow and pain.
Now we could just ignore everything and try to live in a world of superficial denial. But when we ignore something, we lose the ability to react and we fail. We would fail to meet the needs of those around us who are troubled. We would fail in the baptismal covenant we just renewed to tend to the “least of these” and we would fail to discover any reason to rejoice. The darkness may be there … but it is up to us to show the light: The light that is here ready for us; the light that even death could not keep from shining. In one of the shortest Paschal Mystery homilies ever written, St. John Chrysostom proclaimed: “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and life is freed.”
Yes, we have reasons to be concerned and reasons to mourn and reasons to be sorrowful, and we must react to these situations. It is especially important during these times, to always help each other to remember the light that wishes to give us hope and to comfort us in our troubles. For just as the light is eternal and dwells on earth as well as in heaven, this light is also here, within us, within our hearts. And it is here where we find the ability to rejoice.
So I ask you to reflect on this glorious night – where Christ restored us to grace and holiness of life: That while it is wrong that we have brothers and sisters hungry and homeless; rejoice because there are people sitting among us right here in this sanctuary along with other people, organizations and churches in the world, tirelessly seeking to provide for the poor, and honoring the holiness of those lives with as much grace as possible.
I ask you to reflect on this night – where innocence is restored: That while we as a community work through the challenges we face; rejoice that we are blessed with leadership that is wise and capable, friends that comfort our souls, and a common love that unites our hearts.
I ask you to reflect on this night – where we reaffirmed our baptismal covenant; That while it seems more people are turning away from belonging to a church in order to seek God through other paths; rejoice for we have been witness to the fact that there ARE families that bring their babies like precious Isabella into our midst to be baptized, asking for our commitment to share in the responsibility of accepting their child into the body of Christ.
And I ask you to reflect on this night – where Christ rose victorious from the grave: That even as we encounter dark times in our lives and the lives of others; rejoice! Rejoice that we HAVE the light that enables us to see clearly in all situations. Rejoice that we HAVE the light that guides our compassion and care to those who need it. And rejoice that this Light – Christ – the Morning Star that knows no setting – is eternally present, eternally burning, and eternally giving His light and life to ALL creation. May the good Lord bless us and keep us in His eternal light as he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

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