Let There Be Light!

Easter Sunday

Deacon Tom Vert

Preached: April 9, 2023

Let there be light!!!”

Tonight, we have the symbol of light in so many aspects of our celebration!

A new fire, symbolizing our eternal life in Christ, is made which lights the Easter candle. The candle, representing Christ himself – and the words are sung – the Light of Christ!

The single light of the Easter candle processing into the church and the spreading of light from it!

The first words of the first reading describing God’s first creation – let there be light!

It is the deacon’s job to carry the candle into the church and lead the singing, and I was thinking as I carried it what a great symbol it is of the Easter message!

The light of Christ – the light of the world – the light that conquers darkness – the resurrection that conquers death and brings us into God’s eternal light!

That is why we come together to celebrate today – that the light comes into the world, into our lives, and we are never the same.

That light also brings so much brightness that it shines joy to others and brings them closer to God also.

This image, this candle, this symbol of God’s love – should remind us of our own baptisms or those of our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

At our baptisms, after the person has been baptized with water and anointed with the sacred oil of chrism; the godparents and parents are given a candle that is lit from this same Easter candle and these words are spoken:

“Receive the light of Christ.  This light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. You have been enlightened by Christ.  Walk always as children of the light and keep the flame of faith alive in your hearts.”

This flame of faith, this light, this Easter candle are a key focus for us today.

The light from the candle is actually the result of the burning of the wax, up through the wick, and combining with the oxygen in the air.

The candle burning is a great example for our spiritual life:

  • In order to have a strong flame, we need 4 elements – the wax, the wick, oxygen and the spark or another flame that ignites it:
  • The first element is wax which is our spiritual life – it is the sacraments, it is when we read the Bible, when we say rosaries, when we meditate – all the things we do that help to push us forward on the journey of faith
  • The wax is very important because it is the fuel that sustains the flame over the long run
  • The second part is the wick, which is prayer – our connection between us, and the flame that is Christ – as the wick connects the fuel of the wax to the flame; so our prayer life is that connection between us and Christ.
  • The wick is also critical – if you don’t have it, or you cut it off…then the flame dies, you have lost the connection; if the wick is too small or thin, then the liquid overwhelms it and again the connection is lost. It is key to keep the flame burning in our lives by making sure our wick, our prayer life is strong – just 5-10 focused quiet minutes with God makes all the difference to keep that connection
  • The third element is the oxygen that enriches the process; and I would say that this is the Holy Spirit – oxygen is always available in the air for us, everywhere waiting to help sustain the process – and the Holy Spirit is the same, always available when we need Him.
  • It is not something we have to get or find but just has to be tapped into!
  • And finally we have the spark of the first light or activation of the process is the Light of Christ we get from the Easter candle at our baptism – the spark that begins our journey of faith.
  • The result of this combination of the spark from Christ; the spiritual life and prayer providing the wick and fuel and the oxygen that is Holy Spirit – is the flame – the light, the warmth of the Christian life!

But what happens when our candle goes out or dims until it is barely visible?

We are told to keep the flame alive in our hearts – the question for us is, as the storms of life come – the breezes of family challenges, the waves of sickness or financial distress, or just the long time in which we run the race of life – and our candle gets blown out or worn down and runs out of wax – where do we go to keep our candles lit?

The wax is hardened and the wick is small – but the fuel is still there and the oxygen of the Holy Spirit is still there!

The only element we are missing is another flame to get the reaction restarted.

So we look to the Easter candle – we look to Christ for a restart or a reboot or a refresh – this is the great thing about this annual celebration – we get a chance to start anew!

The sun that rises on the empty tomb with Christ overcoming death, is the message that He is there for us to overcome the storms of life and get our flame burning strong once again.

Not only does Christ light the candles, but also he uses each of us to help spread that flame and light candles for one another through the flame that burns inside our own hearts!

Jesus says to us “You are the light of the world, the salt of the earth – you are to bring the light to others!

We should ask ourselves: “Whose candle are we lighting?  Who do we know that needs a restart”  Who have we shown our love and God’s love to that needs it today?

The flame is not for us to hold selfishly but it is to be shared.

Who might be in our lives at home, at work, at the hockey rink, the soccer field or the grocery store that has had their flame go out and needs us to pass the torch to them with a kind word, a smile, or a helping hand?

As we go forth today from this Easter celebration – we should say to ourselves each time we need a boost or we see another in need of a lift in life:

Let there be light!!!

Continue Reading

Bring Light Into The Darkness


3rd Sunday Ordinary Time

Fr.  Mark Gatto

Preached: January 22, 2023

Two learned professors were discussing great thoughts on wisdom and the meaning of life.  The first professor asked the second, “Henry tells me he is one of your students.”  The second professor replied, “Well, Henry does attend most of my classes, but he is not one of my students.”  I wonder if Jesus might say something similar about many of us Christians, that many of us are at church, but that few of us are real disciples.

We see some of the first disciples being called by Jesus.  Peter, James, John, Andrew.  They were out fishing, as this was their work.  Very ordinary and simple people.  They were called and we hear that they left everything to follow him.  They became disciples of Jesus.

Today, Jesus continues to call ordinary people like us.  We also need to let go and follow.  To be disciples of Jesus.  Disciples of Jesus are called to be instruments of God.  What is that mission?

We see something about that mission in the reading from the Prophet Isaiah which is also used in the Gospel about John the Baptist.  “the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,”  “and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”  The mission of the church, the call of disciples of Jesus, is to bring light into the darkness found in our world.  Where do we find darkness in our world today?

We see darkness in how we are treating our environment.  Creation itself is falling into darkness in various ways.  Pollution, extinction of species, climate change.  The church is called to bring light, to be instruments of God caring for creation.  In Genesis, human beings are called to be “stewards” of creation.  Not to have control over creation, but to care for creation.

We see darkness in the reality of war.  Seen clearly in the horror of the war in Ukraine.  Also seen in the violence of terrorists in terrible acts like we saw last week when a Catholic priest in Nigeria was burned to death in his home.  Seen often even in our families where there is division and brokenness.  The church is called to bring light, to be instruments of God working for peace and healing among all peoples.

This week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  How can we Christians be peacemakers in the world when we are unable to be united with our fellow Christians?  Disciples of Jesus must share the desire of Jesus that we be one.  We can only bring light fully into our world if we work for Christian unity.

Last week in the United States they celebrated Martin Luther King day.  One of the great civil rights leaders.  Many of those civil rights leaders in the 50’s and ’60s were imprisoned and even killed.  The first disciples of Jesus were also often imprisoned and many of them died martyrs.  Instruments of God will often face opposition when they are working for justice, peace, the dignity of the poor and marginalized.

Jesus needs disciples today.  Disciples who are ready to follow him and be instruments of God in our world.  To bring light into darkness.  Today that includes bringing light to the care for creation, the struggle for peace, the efforts for Christian unity, to the work for the equality and dignity of all human beings.

Where to begin?  Begin with one person, one member of your family, one friend, and one person in your neighbourhood.  One person who is lonely, depressed, sick, or in need in some way.  In some practical way bring light into the life of that person.

There are lots of Christians in our world, but how many disciples of Jesus are there?

Be instruments of God.  Bring God’s light into the dark corners of our world.

Continue Reading

How Many Lumens Am I?


Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

Deacon Tom Vert

Preached: January 19, 2020

How many lumens do you shine?

When we go to look for a light at Home Depot, the box tells us how many lumens of energy the light emits – a typical light around 1000-2000 lumens and one that is brighter over 5000 lumens.

“Lumens” is a fancy name for candlepower as they are calculated by a candle giving off one square foot of light from one foot away.

So how many lumens, is how many candles of light are emitted from your spiritual light source.

Our spiritual light source is the power of the Holy Spirit we received at our baptisms and throughout our lives.

At our baptisms we receive our baptismal candle which is lit from the Easter candle and we are told “this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly” and to “keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts”!

The image of light is so powerful in our faith:

  • The first thing God created was light – let there be Light!
  • Isaiah tells us in the first reading today that God will make him and us a “light to the nations”
  • In the book of James, we hear “light has come into the world”
  • Jesus is the “light of the world”
  • And in Romans, “let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light”

This theme of light and showing our light to the world is the key to today’s readings.

In the first reading we hear Isaiah speaking in a spirit of thanksgiving.  He is thanking God for all he has done through him.

God says – “you are my servant…through whom I show my glory”.  This is key as it shows that God shines through us – the power and strength of the Holy Spirit that we have been given in grace is what we are to show to the world.   These are to be our lumens that shine forth!

Isaiah was told that he was “formed as a servant from the womb”, just as each one of us is formed with unique gifts and talents that only our own candles will have.

In the psalm we have sung – “Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.”  This phrasing is important because it shows us that when we shine our lives out for those to see – it only works if we are doing His will and not our own!

We shine forth to show God’s love and mercy and forgiveness to all those around us, not for the spotlight to be shining on ourselves.

The psalm also teaches us that we are to have “ears open to obedience” and “God’s law in our hearts”.

Always we are called to have God’s message as the focus and source of our candlelight!

In the second reading which is the first 3 lines of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we hear two key messages:  Paul is “called to be an apostle by the will of God” and we are “called to be holy”

Both of these are important as we see that even the most famous preacher of the gospel, St. Paul, doesn’t focus on himself – he was called by the will of God.

The beautiful message today is that we are called by the same will of God and we are empowered to be holy by the same gift of the Holy Spirit that Paul was.

Paul may have been knocked down by the light of Christ on the road to Damascus, but we receive the exact same light of Christ at our own baptisms!  There is only one Holy Spirit who through the centuries has carried God’s message to each and every one of us.

When Paul says, “Grace and peace to you”, it echoes what we hear at the beginning of each mass – “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”

The grace and the peace are the same as 2000 years ago, with the same source in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And then we hear in the gospel today this beautiful story of John the Baptist and Christ at the Jordan just after Christ’s baptism.

John points his own disciples towards Christ and says, “Behold the Lamb of God”.  His supporters would have known the Old Testament reference he was making to the “gentle lamb led to the slaughter” that was prophesized by Jeremiah and Isaiah.

They would have known that he was telling them this is the Messiah who would redeem the Jewish nation by his sacrifice and would be a conquering lamb like king David.

John knows his role, he is not the Messiah, he says “this is the reason I came – that he might be made known”.

John knows his calling is based on his unique gifts and this should cause us to pause and think of the gifts that God has given to us individually.  What is the talent that I have that is to shine forth so that people can see my connection to Christ?

The question we have is how much light is shining out from our Spirit, and if we have grown dim or dull over time, how do we now increase our lumens?

There are 2 ways to do this:

  1. We have to make sure we are connected to the power – the light bulb doesn’t work if it isn’t connected! This means that we have to make sure our prayer life is strong and that we receive the “medicine” of the Eucharist to give us strength.
  2. We have to make sure that our lights are not covered in dust and dirt, etc. It is amazing isn’t it that dust accumulates so slowly over time, but if you look after a while you can wipe off the layer of white with your finger.   Sin is the same, it creeps slowly into our lives unannounced, but we have power through reconciliation to wipe the bulb clean!

So then what kind of light are we shining forth?  If the source is the Holy Spirit, then the candle power that shines forth are the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

We shine forth kindness, gentleness, peace, goodness, self-control, faithfulness, patience, joy and of course love.

The more we see these fruits in action in our lives, the more we know our light is shining brightly.

We hear in the bible “No one lights a lamp to put it under the tub – they put it on a lampstand where it shines for everyone in the house.”  You are that lamp, shining brightly for all to see!

So, this week ask yourself this one question when you pray “How many lumens am I?”


Continue Reading