It is good to reflect on the experience of darkness

Readings: Gen. 1.1-2.2; Ex. 14.15-15.1; Is. 55.1-11; Rom. 6.3-11; Lk. 24.1-12

Christ is our light. To appreciate the value of light, it is good to reflect on the experience of darkness.

When you entered the church this evening, how did you feel being enveloped in darkness? A little strange, uncertain about your steps; waiting, hoping for the coming of light? When the new fire was lit and this light shined through the darkness, it pleased us, yes? As the priest proceeded up the center aisle with the Paschal Candle and sang, "Christ, our light," it was encouraging, yes? And as successive candles in the congregation were lit, and the wave of light advanced through the church, it was reassuring. After the singing of the Exultet, when all of the church's electrical lights were turned on, we felt most comfortable and joyful, yes? We prefer light to darkness.

Christ is our light. Recall the references to light already made tonight. In the darkness the priest prayed at the front doors of the church: "May the light of Christ dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds." During the Exultet these words were sung: "Rejoice Oh earth in shining splendor, darkness has vanished forever." Genesis tells us when darkness covered the abyss, "God said, 'Let there be light, and there was light." Later, on the fourth day, God created the sun and moon: "God saw how good it was. Evening came and morning followed." The Book of Exodus reports: "A cloud guided the Israelites during the daytime, and during the night a pillar of fire shone through the cloud." God used light to demonstrate his creativity and to save us.

In the Old Testament, Isaiah urged the people, "Why spend your money for what is not bread, your wages for what fails to satisfy?" Be smart. "Seek the lord while he may be found; call him while he is near. Listen that you may have life." In the New Testament, Jesus enlightens our minds by his teachings, and he lights a pathway, a way of living that satisfies our hearts and souls. Jesus offers us a way of living a deeper, fuller, more satisfying way of life.

For all baptized and especially for our candidates tonight, St. Paul adds, "If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall live with Christ." The women who ran to the tomb heard the angel say: "Remember that the Son of Man must be crucified and rise to new life on the third day." Jesus' way is self-giving, self-sacrificing, doing God the Father's will and not one's self-centered will. Jesus' light, Jesus' pathway points us beyond earthly existence to eternal life. We turn to Jesus for instruction, hope, forgiveness and the right path to walk now and always. Jesus declares in John's gospel: "I am the way, the truth and the life."

Tonight we will receive one infant and two adults into the Catholic Church, plus four already baptized Christian adults are converting to the Catholic Church. One current Catholic will receive the sacrament of Confirmation. Tonight all these adults will receive the sacraments of Communion this evening. What motivates these candidates to enter the Catholic Church? The parish's RCIA team meets with them every Wednesday evening, 7-9 pm, throughout the school year. Priests, deacons and mostly laity teach the classes. These candidates seek the fullness of light, life and love. The RCIA candidates seek the apostolic church and the truth of its teachings. They seek to receive the grace-bearing sacraments. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the traditions they have absorbed. They seek to continue the experience of love that they have found already with Catholic family and friends.

Tonight, those receiving baptism will receive a candle and will hear these words: "Receive the light of Christ. Walk as children of the light." During confirmation, these candidates will affirm that they wish to receive the light of the Holy Spirit. Why? The ritual states: "in order to become more like Christ, the Son of God." During the congregation's renewal of baptismal promises the celebrant will ask: "Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?" We will answer "Ye," because we too seek Christ who is our Light.

At the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we will receive the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. We will receive a share in his divine life. Jesus Christ, our Light and Life, is the incarnation of Love itself. Jesus is our Light, Savior and Resurrected Lord. Thanks be to God. Thanks be to Jesus who is the source of Light, Life and Love. By our lives may we lovingly bring Jesus' light to our world.

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley