This is a night of light and life. Our Easter Candle is the symbol of the risen Christ, the light of the world who through his passion, death and resurrection has conquered the darkness of sin and death and brought the light of truth to the world. Christ promised those who follow him would not walk in darkness and he challenged those who bear his name – you are the light of the world, so let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. After your baptism or reception into the church you will receive a candle lit from our Easter candle and a very important prayer will be said “you have been enlightened by Christ, walk always as children of the light. Keep the flame of faith alive in your hearts and when the lord comes may you go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.”
This is the night when new life enriches the life of the total church. In churches around the world a ceremony such as ours is celebrated as men and woman and children are baptized. Others celebrating their original baptism in another Christian community are welcomed into the Catholic community. We welcome all you wonderful people who have studied and questioned the teaching of the church and have come to know Jesus Christ as the one who loved you and died for you.
This is not an easy time to be a Catholic Christian. Our church has been shamed by the sins of some of our priests and the lack of responsible leadership by some of our bishops. As I’ve said before we are a community of sinners struggling to be saints. May the new life you and so many others around the world bring to the church strengthen us in our efforts to be faithful to the teachings and the example of Jesus.
Through your baptism or through your profession of faith in the Catholic faith you are the church. Most people when they think or heard of the word church imagine St. Peters in Rome of some other church, they imagine the Pope or the Cardinals, bishops or priests. They are not the church. They have a role to play in the life of the church but the people are the church – you are the church. I want to welcome you as together we celebrate the very foundation of our Christian faith – the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. As St. Paul tells us “if Christ be not raised we are still in our sins – Good Friday was for nothing – and we of all people are the most to be pitied for we’ve followed a fraud. But Christ is raised and in him we all try to live a new life for God.” As we continue this celebration we pray for ourselves and for the new members of the church that each of us will walk in the light of the Risen Christ and be lights to others that they may see our good works and give glory to God.
May we all be blessed with a Happy and Holy Easter.