The following homily was delivered by Sister Lynne Smith, OSB, at the Easter Vigil at Holy Wisdom Monastery on Saturday night, April 23, 2011.
Lynne is an ordained Presbyterian minister and a member of Benedictine Women of Madison. She served congregations in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for sixteen years before coming to Holy Wisdom Monastery. She has been a member of Benedictine Women of Madison since 2000.
An artist friend once told me that art is about learning to see. So wanting to grow in awareness, I took a basic drawing class this winter. In the first class the teacher showed us how to shade simple objects and draw the shadows they cast. She said: “The cast shadow is never solid black. It contains shades of gray.” As I looked more closely, I began to see the gradations of gray within the shadows. Then she pointed out something I hadn’t noticed before. Within the shaded side of an object there is a bit of reflected light that bounces off the table back onto the object. “Look for the light,” she said. What a good metaphor for Christians who desire to follow Jesus. Christ, God’s light at play in our lives, bounces around and shows up where we don’t expect it. Every experience can hold a bit of light. Even our darker, more difficult times may reveal the presence of the light of Christ Jesus. Our spiritual practices like centering prayer and practicing gratitude guide us in looking for the light.
Tonight, in the light of the Easter fire, we begin to see anew like the women did at the tomb in the morning’s first light. What we see is a love and power at work in the world beyond anything we can imagine and beyond our limited abilities. The resurrection confronts us with God’s possibilities for new life. Because Christ has risen, we always have reason to hope that God is at work in the world to bring about more than we can imagine.
In the readings this evening we hear how God’s love has been woven throughout creation since the beginning of time. God’s love cannot be extinguished – not by betrayal or violence, by denial or faithlessness. Not even death can put an end to the shining of God’s compassionate love in our lives.
The angel tells the women they will see Jesus in Galilee. Galilee was their home place, the place where they had experienced Jesus’ ministry. There they had seen him at the sea shore, teaching and feeding the crowds, healing the sick and suffering misunderstanding and rejection. In the light of the Easter fire we learn to see Jesus in the daily events of our lives. We see him in each others’ faces around this table and in the bread and wine. Christ looks at us through the eyes of the hungry child, the sick man, the addicted adolescent, the dying woman. We also see him in those who serve. By the flame of the spirit within us we see Jesus in the bread and wine we share at this table and in the people with whom we eat at other tables. A smile, a ray of sunlight, an act of perseverance, a word, a hand caressing ours can reveal the Light at the center of our lives.
As we become accustomed to looking for the light, we see Jesus even in the shadow times of life and in those with whom we disagree. Nothing we encounter can block out God’s love. “Do not be afraid;” the angel says. You are looking for Jesus who is your life and your love. He is not locked away in the tomb. He is going ahead of you in all the places of your life. There you will see him and tell others of the One you have seen.