‘The risen Lord gives us the love that does not fear death’

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The following homily was given by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Easter Vigil, Saturday, April 11, 2020, during a livestreamed Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne.

The Easter Vigil always begins in darkness. In fact, the Church does not allow the Easter Vigil, the first Mass of Easter, to begin until after the sun sets. The darkness of our churches reminds us of the darkness of the tomb of Jesus. This darkness also reminds us of the darkness of history and even the darkness before the dawn of creation. Creation only begins when God says: “Let there be light.”  

At the beginning of the Easter Vigil, in the darkness of the church, a light appears – the light of the Paschal candle.  It is the light of a new creation. When He raises His Son Jesus from the dead, God is saying again “let there be light.” The darkness is driven away the moment that Jesus rises from the grave. Light is created anew.  

Jesus is God’s pure light. At the Easter Vigil, the light of the Paschal Candle is passed to everyone in the church as their candles are lit. The Risen Jesus draws all of us into the new light of the resurrection. He conquers all darkness.  

When we were baptized, the Lord said to each one of us: “let there be light.” We became children of God and children of the light. We are to live as children of the light in the midst of the darkness that still threatens us. Evil still exists and the devil and his minions still seek the ruin of souls. But we walk through life illumined by the light of Christ, the light of faith. Even though we know that earthly death still awaits, we walk by the light of the One who conquered death, by the light of the Risen Christ who is our hope. 

During this coronavirus pandemic, we are keenly aware of the danger of death. We don’t yet have a cure or a vaccine to protect us. And, even when we do, there won’t be a cure for death. We pray that our scientists will soon develop the vaccine for the virus, but they will never develop a medicine for immortality. Actually, this medicine has already been developed. We received it at our Baptism.  

When Jesus rose from the dead, death was conquered. The tomb was thrown open. The light of Christ erupted and it has spread throughout the world and throughout history. Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the true light, more than the physical phenomenon of light. He is pure light. He is God Himself, God who causes a new creation to be born