A couple of years ago, I had the privilege to visit the Holy Land. One of the most powerful moments was visiting the Church of Holy Sepulcher. In this Church, we can see the place where Jesus was crucified, “Golgotha” and next to it a small church within the church which is the Tomb of Christ. It was not just Church of Tomb, but also of was Church of Resurrection. We read in the Bible, it was a garden. A beautiful morning, a joy filled morning a group of people, some of them surprised, others confused, still others running to tell others “He is risen”.
There is a story of Joseph of Arimathea. He was a very wealthy Pharisee, a member of the council, and a secret follower of Jesus. It was Joseph who went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. And it was Joseph who supplied the tomb for Jesus’ burial. I wonder if someone pulled him aside and said, "Joseph that was such beautiful, costly, hand-hewn tomb. Why on earth did you give it to someone to be buried in?" "Why not?" Joseph may have answered. He only needed it for the weekend."
After the Last Supper, Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane, then journeyed to Calvary. We were living these moments the last few days. On Good Friday we make three stops and sing with the Cross, “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.” And we come up to venerate the cross that brought us salvation. We come up to give their burdens to the One who hung on the cross for them.
At Easter Vigil, a large candle is brought into the darkened church. Its light illuminates the church. This time we sing, “The Light of Christ,” and respond, “Thanks be to God.” The One who hung upon the cross has brought light to a world of suffering in its own darkness. The heat of the flame confirms our hope that the transformation of Lenten winter into Easter spring time.
Inserted in the candle are five wax nails that signify the wounds that the crucified Jesus received in his hands, feet, and side. These nails are the symbol of great love. These symbols reminds us that God is with us in our hurts, grief, that God’s spirit of compassion is in our midst, in our love and concern for one another, and transforms hurt into healing.
The paschal candle will remain lit throughout the Easter season. It will then be given a place of honor near the baptismal font. During the year it will be lit at the celebration of baptism and funerals. By its light we welcome those who are reborn in the waters of baptism, and funerals by its light we commend to God the souls of those who will go before us in peace to the eternal dwelling place of our Father.
St. Agustin says Jesus departed from our sight, that we might return to our hearts and there find Him. He is Risen!! He is alive in our hearts. Let the Paschal candle brighten our hearts and minds. May the Risen Christ dwell in our hearts, families, community and bless us with His love, forgiveness and healing this Easter and always. I wish you all a Happy Easter!!