EASTER – ITS SYMBOLS EXPLAINED
It is no easy task to put into words the sheer immensity of the Resurrection, therefore it is always easier to translate the Easter mystery into signs and symbols that are better understood by everyone.
The first symbol used is THE VIGIL ITSELF; to spend the night praying waiting for Christ, the light. Our love for Christ, waiting for him at the tomb, as we wait for our loved ones.
The second symbol is THE LIGHT. The dawn, the splendor of the Risen Body (remember the Transfiguration) and the way John presents Jesus: “while I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” The whole theology of John revolves around light and darkness. This is the night of Light, of the victory over death and over sin.
Light is presented in the paschal candle, which involves another symbolism very ancient, simple and profound. The candle is consumed to illumine others. It is wholly there to provide light for others and is consumed in the process. It is a perfect symbol of Christ. Our little candles are all the same size, but receive their light from Him. It is the only value the whole candle has, and of the whole life of a Christian: to be consumed in order to give light to others.
Candle- gives of itself to dispel darkness. The light of Christ in our lives too, who is constantly dispelling darkness from our sinful lives because he loves us. Thus the Candle is a true symbol of Christ’s love.
The third symbol is WATER. That is why we celebrate our entrance into the Church through Baptism, our incorporation into the light, our participation in the New Life of Christ.
Water, a very rich symbol, has many meanings. In the first place, water means cleanliness. We are cleansed from our sins. We celebrate forgiveness, for God is water always ready to cleanse. Secondly, water is fertility. We are celebrating Life. Jesus is life. We can say after we have known Jesus “this is life”, and eternal life, while the life of human beings without Jesus is drought and sterility. Thirdly, the symbol “coming out of the water” was used in the Church to mean “escaping from death” as the people of Israel in the Red Sea, even though this symbol has been falling into disuse.
God’s love seen in the water: because he constantly wants to cleanse us, give us new life and make us fruitful and be a source of well spring for others.
Thus these symbols which we use daily, must remind us of God’s love, through His Son Jesus: therefore we need to:
– Keep vigil: preparation for the Lord’s Supper, His resurrection.
– Candles: we use them at each Eucharist that reminds us of Christ the Light, who came to dispel darkness and to light up our lives.
– Water: our very Baptism and our Baptismal promises that we have taken.
We do all this because we love and to always want to remain in love with God.
No one SAW the Resurrection because there was nothing to SEE. The crucifixion is a historical event; the Resurrection is a faith event.
Fr. Franco Pereira, S.D.B.