The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night, 16 April 2022
Every summer when we were growing up with all our cousins home for the vacation, we would always play bahay-bahayan underneath the many fruit-trees at our Lola’s garden. We would use palm leaves and whatever pieces of wood we had for our playhouses where we used to have our merienda and lunch.
One major concern we always had was making the “night scene” when we were supposed to “sleep” and the inside of the playhouse must be really, really dark by covering its walls with thick blankets. But, no matter how hard we tried to keep the lights out of our playhouses, there would always be a streak of light bursting forth inside, thus, teaching me an important lesson that has guided me through adulthood and priesthood: no matter how dark life may be, nothing can stop nor prevent even the smallest amount of light in penetrating every space and corner. And once light had burst through any darkness, all we have to do is just to spread that light until the whole place is basked in pure joy and glory like this Easter Vigil!
After three days of darkness when Jesus suffered and died and was buried, tonight we celebrate his Resurrection, his being our Light who has conquered the darkness of sin and evil that have enveloped the world for so long.
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, symbolized by the Paschal Candle we have blessed earlier outside the church. Jesus is the Light who dispels all darkness in this life, the Light who clarifies everything to mankind that we are so loved by God our Father.
Our many readings tonight remind us of God’s fidelity to his promise to save us. When we try to look back especially in these past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic is our new exodus. And thought we are still in the wilderness wandering like the chosen people, we are now more certain of God’s presence with us in the present and the future because right now, we have felt the salvation of Jesus Christ.
Yes, we may have loss many of our loved ones but we are still alive continuing the journey of life. Some of us may have lost our jobs but the light of Christ had led many of us to new careers and business opportunities. Students are finally looking forward to their F2F classes to resume while many of those who kept their lights burning through the darkness of online classes have finally graduated with this year’s batch becoming the first to have F2F commencement exercises.
The light of Jesus Christ was never extinguished during these dark moments of pandemic. And tonight we are challenged to share Christ our Light amid the darkness we are still into like this pandemic and the coming elections.
Let us recall the beautiful rites we have just celebrated tonight. May I invite you to recall the gradual lighting of our own candles from the Paschal Candle after it was blessed outside. First to light from it were us your priests, then as we entered the church, one by one, everybody was able to light from the Paschal Candle, passing on the light to others until we illumined our church.
That gradual lighting of candles at the altar after the singing of the Exsultet and later the turning on of all lights after the Gloria evoke so many wonderful truths about God always present in our lives especially when there are darkness of sin and evil, failures and disappointments, sickness and sufferings, life and death.
Tonight we are asked to share and spread Jesus Christ, his light to others especially those in the darkness of sins and sufferings, of ignorance and blindness to truth, and other forms of darkness that prevent us experiencing the joy of being free in the Lord.
The most beautiful sight of all when all the lights in the church were turned on while our own candles were extinguished is the Paschal Candle still burning, prominently placed near the ambo, reassuring us of Jesus Christ remaining with us throughout the year as our light present in every celebration of the Sacraments in this church especially when we are nourished in his Word and Body and Blood in the Sunday Eucharist, in welcoming every new Christian during baptism and accompanying our departed ones in their journey to eternal life in him.
Beginning tonight, every time we see the Paschal Candle, may we remember the challenge of Jesus to share his light with others, to be open to welcome him who has risen.
While they were puzzling over this (the empty tomb), behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces on the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”Luke 24:4-7
Stop seeking the living among the dead! Perfectly said by the angels as they reminded the women looking for Jesus at the empty tomb on that Easter morning. And these are the words they are telling us still since that Easter!
Sharing the light of Jesus Christ is reminding ourselves too and others the same words of the angels to stop seeking the living among the dead.
Be kind and be gentle with yourself. Jesus had forgiven you, forgive yourself for your sins and mistakes in the past if you have confessed these or gone to confessions this Lenten season.
Move on with the present moment, dare to go out and challenge yourself to learn again, to work again, to love again, to dream again! COVID-19 may still be around but Jesus Christ is stronger, so let us rise again from our sickness and diseases! Let us not be afraid of the dark anymore for the Light can never be dimmed anymore.
May the light of our Risen Lord illumine your dark corners in life, enable you to empty yourself of sins and pains of the past to bask in the warmth and brightness of each new day in Christ! Amen.