When darkness becomes light

The Lord Is My Chef Easter Sunday Recipe, 21 April 2019
Photo from Google.

During our morning prayer (lauds) at the parish today, I invited my parishioners to “internalize” the meaning of Jesus being buried, being “dead” this Saturday. I love the word “internalize” that evokes the imagery of Jesus “descending into the dead” while we his disciples go inside our very selves, probing deeper our heart and soul to examine our faith in the Risen Jesus Christ.

Internalize. I think this is the keyword this Easter Sunday. To internalize means to go into the dark, to befriend darkness. Unless we have gone through the darkness of Good Friday, we shall never fully appreciate the brightness of Easter Sunday. How sad that so many of us went through all liturgical celebrations and other devotional practices of Palm Sunday into Holy Thursday and Good Friday only to be absent this Easter Sunday which is the most important celebration of our faith, the very foundation of our being Christians. All those five weeks of Lent plus the Holy Week are preparations for Easter which covers more than 50 days beginning today until Pentecost. And those 50 days are counted as one big day because Easter is the Mother of all feasts in the Church!

And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.

1 Corinthians 15:14

Recent events demand that we as a Church, the Body of the Risen Lord, internalize our being Christians. You must have seen that viral photo of Antipolo pilgrims who have turned the Cathedral into a huge trash bin during Holy Thursday’s visita iglesia. It was the same sight in many churches and pilgrimage sites last week that make us wonder if Jesus is really alive in us? Or, Jesus has risen but we have remained dead in our sins and indifference, in our own “do-it-yourself” kind of religion or cafeteria Catholicism when we choose to believe only in certain teachings and beliefs that suit our tastes and well-being.

Photo by Kae Rivera via GMA News.

Problem is not only with the faithful but also with us priests when we have forgotten or even disregarded Jesus our Lord and Master, giving more emphasis on our own beliefs and concepts of what is true, good and beautiful that our celebrations and practices have become more of a show than expressions of faith. See how repositories on Holy Thursday have become more like a stage for “Asia’s Got Talent” or any variety show that have robbed Christ of the dignity and honor because people have become more focused with the glitz and glamour of the stage design and production. Sorry to say, it has become more of a show than a devotion as people leave talking about the spectacle than Jesus being present. And the sad part is how we priests have misled the people away from Christ but consciously or unconsciously, closer to us.

Now see my dear readers how in our gospel accounts this Easter Sunday that the prevailing mood and scenery are of darkness.

At daybreak on the first day of the week… On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark… That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus…As they approached the village to which they were going, they urged Jesus, “Stay with, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”

Luke 24:1… John 20:1…Luke 24:13, 28-29
From Google.

Jesus rose in the dead of the night to bring light and life. Recall how the evangelists unanimously tell us that when Jesus died, there was widespread darkness to remind us that our darkest moments in life are our finest ones when we are with him. His first appearances were all in the darkness of dawn, dusk, and evening. There is something in darkness that Jesus invites us to come to him and meet him. It is only in the dark when we truly enter into a new and deeper level of friendship and relationship, of intimacy with him or with anyone else like married couples because it is in darkness when we truly trust and believe the other person. In the darkness of the night we muster all our faith and trust, strength and courage to await the breaking of a new day filled with hope and joy.

In this age of social media when everybody has the whole world as a stage, we always live in the brightness of so many artificial lights, stage lights for performances or palabas as we call them. We no longer have what Paul Simon sings “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again…” Jesus conquered darkness so we can befriend it to find our selves and others better. Darkness is the light that leads us to Easter! Life need not be always bright because the sun does not shine on all days.

The tragedy of forgetting darkness, of always living in artificial lights is that the more we fail to see ourselves, others, God, and the world around us. The more we fail, the more we are sad, the more we are unfulfilled. Worst, the more we do not see despite all the lights! Don’t you find that ironic, even absurd? And that explains why we have so many undeserving elected leaders today. This Easter, let the darkness of the dawn, of the empty tomb be our light in following Jesus. Be not afraid to walk in the dark like the two disciples going to Emmaus because Jesus always walks with us, listens to us, shares with us in the darkness of our lives. Jesus is alive and he loves you very much! Amen.

“Road to Emmaus” painting from Google.

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