by Pope Benedict XVI.
When Christ predicted his death and Resurrection, the apostles wondered what the word, "resurrection," meant. Could it be that we find ourselves in a similar situation?
Christmas, the birth of the Divine Infant, we can somehow immediately comprehend. We can love the Child and imagine the night in Bethlehem…. But what is Resurrection?
It does not form part of our experience, and so the message often remains to some degree beyond our understanding, a thing of the past.
The Church tries to help us understand it by expressing this mysterious event in the language of symbols….
One of these symbols is light.
The story of creation, which is proclaimed to us at the Easter Vigil, begins with the command, Let there be light! (Gen 1:3). Where there is light, life is born, and chaos can be transformed into cosmos….
The Resurrection of Jesus is an eruption of light. Death is conquered, the tomb is thrown open. The Risen One himself is Light, the Light of the World.
With the Resurrection, the Lord’s day enters the night of history. Beginning with the Resurrection, God’s light spreads throughout the world and throughout history.
Day dawns. The Light alone—Jesus Christ—is the true light, something more than the physical phenomenon of light. He is pure Light, God himself, who causes a new creation to be formed in the midst of the old, transforming chaos into cosmos….
At the Easter Vigil, the Church represents the mystery of the light of Christ in the sign of the Paschal candle, whose flame is both light and heat. The symbolism of light is connected with that of fire: radiance and heat, radiance and the transforming energy contained in the fire. Truth and love go together.
The Paschal candle burns and is thereby consumed; Cross and Resurrection are inseparable. It is from the Cross, from the Son’s self-giving, that light is born, that true radiance comes into the world.
From this Paschal candle, we all light our own candles….
Then in Baptism, God says to the candidate, "Let there be light!" The candidate is brought into the light of Christ. Christ now divides the light from the darkness. In him we recognize what is true and what is false, what is radiance and what is darkness. With him, there wells up within us the light of truth, and we begin to understand.
On one occasion when Christ looked upon the people who had come to listen to him, seeking some guidance from him, he felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mk 6:34). Amid the contradictory messages of that time, they did not know which way to turn.
What great compassion he must feel in our own time, too—on account of all the endless talk that people hide behind, while in reality, they are totally confused.
Where must we go? What are the values by which we can order our lives?….
Christ is the light. The baptismal candle is the symbol of the enlightenment that is given to us in Baptism….
Christians should shine as lights in the world (cf. Phil 2:15). Let us pray to the Lord that the fragile flame of the candle he has lit in us, the delicate light of his word and his love amid the confusions of this age, will not be extinguished in us, but will become ever stronger and brighter, so that we, with him, can be people of the day—bright stars lighting up our time.
—Excerpted from the pope’s homily at the Easter Vigil Mass, April 11, 2009
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