Darkness to Light is a long hard journey. We have experienced times when there is darkness enfolding around us so we cannot see. Sometimes when there is a death of a loved one. For others there is loss of dignity with growing older. Other times there could be depression and anxiety about a problem in the family or a serious illness in the family. This darkness of the soul and scattering of the mind can cause us to think the world is black and we are suffocating from divine and holy air.
I remember the day my father died. I knew death was coming. I knew that it would happen any time. I knew that I praying as hard as I could that his death would not come. I kept telling God it was not the right time because I had things to do before the real darkness came. Then, something happened inside of me. I told God that it was time for my dad must pass on. I was unaware of the darkness that was sure to come. Ten minutes after I had prayed this my mother called and told me that dad had died. Just ten minutes after I told God that I was ready my father passed from life to death and was with Jesus.
It turned out that I really was not ready for the blackness and emptiness that followed. I remember walking around the neighborhood at midnight, not able to walk in a straight line on the moonlighted sidewalk. My walking was like I had died myself, weaving and weaving from side to side. All around were hopelessness, emptiness, despair, and the terrible darkness that wrapped around me like I was in a tight shroud. I came home from the walk to a lighted house with people who professed they loved me but could not help in any way.
This is the same darkness that the disciples experienced when Jesus, their companion, their beloved friend, their loved one was hung on the cross to die. It was the same darkness that Mary, the mother of Jesus, felt when her son was experiencing his crucifixion and his indescribable death on the cross. This darkness was all around Jerusalem. The tomb was dark. The heavy round stone was ready to be rolled shut. Jesus was anointed with oil and wrapped in linen cloth. He then entered the holy darkness of the tomb. For Mary, the mother of Jesus, blackness and horrific grief surrounded her until she almost unable to stand. No parent is ever ready when their child dies. Darkness, blackness, and emptiness are what the parents feel.
"In the morning when it was still dark Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone was rolled back". She ran to Simon Peter and told him. He and others ran to the tomb and realized that Jesus was not there. Mary stayed and began to weep and then looked inside. She saw two angels in brilliant garments. The tomb now was spectacular in glowing light. As she turned about she saw a figure dressed in clothing that was white but a white that hurt her eyes because she had never seen anything like this before. Mary did not know who he was until he said her name, "Mary". She suddenly knew he was the Teacher, Jesus. He said, "Do not touch me because I have not ascended to the God of all". Mary went at once to tell the others that she had seen the Light, the Jesus. There was no more darkness: Jesus was radiating light and was alive. All despair was ended. A new light was breaking forth for everyone to see.
What does that mean for us today? I remember the story of the resurrection often and know that Jesus was raised from the dead for me, and you, and you, and you, and you. We all will be joining Jesus with our Mother and Father God and will be there forever. There is no worry that we will not be stopped at the Gate if we have lived a good life and asked forgiveness for our sins along the way. We will be going home which has many rooms in the "home" of God. We know we are loved beyond measure and always will be.
Sometimes though, along the way of living our life we can get discouraged because we forget this story of unconditional love. It can be easy to do because troubles can pile up and up and up. Many of us in this church right now are caring many burdens. These heavy backpacks of grief do not seem to allow us to lift up our head and see the light around us. We have a responsibility to look for the light in the world around us. Loved ones around us do not have the responsibility of making us happy. It would be nice to blame others for our pain and discouragement. We have to remember we are loved by God unconditionally and always will be. Trust in God may be very hard to do when life screams "this is too much". We have the responsibility to pray as best we can often, everyday, and perhaps all day. Light and answers will come to all those who ask. We have to do our part.
Look at the brilliance of the sun and last week: the blood moon. Look at the eyes and smiles of children at an Easter egg hunt. Look at elderly who smile at small kindnesses. Look at the faces of the poor who share with others out of there nothingness.
Finally, continue to read sacred scripture because new meanings evolve and new revelations occur. Mary, in today's Gospel has been elevated in the church to be a disciple of Jesus because she was the first to see Jesus and was the first to spread the news that Jesus was Risen and alive. Look at your daughters, your granddaughters, the important women in your life and realize that this new thought and meaning in the church elevates all women to take on important tasks within the Church itself. If Mary, a woman, became the first disciple than all women should have and can have equal roles in the church at all levels and in all structures. Light coming to the church can be slow in coming but the light is here and continues to grow brighter.
I wish you much brilliant light in your world. Please direct your prayers for others that they, too, can see the brilliant light around them.
Alleluia, alleluia, and AMEN