THE LIGHT OF DAWN BREAKS FORTH, the dark powerless against its piercing rays, proclaiming the Day of the Lord. Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia! Et apparuit Simoni, alleluia! Christ is risen indeed, and today we celebrate not some bygone moment in history but a living reality. Last night, as the Paschal Candle stood, still unlit, in the darkness, the priest cut into its wax a cross, the letters Alpha and Omega, and the numerals for the current year, a symbolic reminder of the reality of Christ’s presence across all times and with us today.
Christum heri et hodie
Principium et Finis
Alpha et Omega
Ipsius sunt tempora et saecula;
Ipsi Gloria et imperium
Per universa aeternitatis saecula.
Christ yesterday and today
Beginning and End
Alpha and Omega
All times are his and all ages;
To him be glory and dominion
Through all ages and in eternity. Amen.
It is our personal encounter with the Risen Lord that draws us into the mystery of our salvation: its history from the first act of Divine love which created man, to its consummation on the Cross; not from the horizontal perspective of passing time but drawing us up into the love of God itself, there from eternity to look down upon love's great work. For those baptised in the light of the Risen Christ last night, they received this incorporation into eternity as, breaking through the waters, the Father made them sons and daughters by virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection. Yet we too, those that received our new brethren with the company of all the Saints, are not mere spectators to their joy but participants anew in the new life that the light of Christ’s resurrection brings, as we once more renounce Satan and affirm our faith. In this renewal of our baptismal promises we encounter again the redeeming light that is Christ and stand not just here in 2017 but in eternity seeing the “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1) in which we were baptised and received into the eternal communion of the Saints.
This encounter with Christ in his risen glory is not a romantic scene from a movie, played in slow motion to the sound of violins, but a startling wake-up call. It does not lilt us slowly from slumber but tolls as sonorously as the first peal of bells since they were silenced to mark the beginning of the solemn Paschal Triduum. But too often is Easter Day a climax of religious fervour that slumps into an anti-climax of Laodicean devotion. We, perhaps, wear light and darkness equally well, but fail to appreciate that being clothed with Christ means that life will never be the same again. The Triduum ends with Vespers this evening but if we exit these three days unchanged then we have not truly penetrated the mystery of the Lord’s Passover. Life in the light of the resurrection is always exacting and unsettling, just as the Paschal mystery itself disturbs human values with the folly of the Cross. There has to be a change in us, and that change needs to be as immediate as the first light of dawn.
Look around you at the world. Where is there hope? From where shall your victory come? The modern world, the same generation after generation, offers no reason for hope. “In the midst of life we are in death, to whom may we seek for succour but of thee O Lord?” as the old breviary reminds us in the Office of the Dead. The crux of this day, (pun intended), is whether or not we truly believe that the resurrection of the Lord changes something in our lives … our sorrows, sufferings, and worries; our battles, schemes, and struggles … what will become of these Good Fridays in the light of the resurrection? We will not raise ourselves on the last day; it is all God or nothing. We have, today, been given an unassailable hope. Let us live no longer under the illusions and delusions of our own power and grandeur … these have faded like the shadows flee in the face of the sunrise. Following the example of the Magdalene and of all those who witnessed and believed that Christ is risen, may we let the countenance of the Risen One shine in ourselves and around us by giving him the conquest of our hearts so that we may be risen with him, for, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).
This joyous Eastertide and all the days of our lives, may Christ be our Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of all that we do, so that all that we are may be his dominion, and his glory in eternity.