“The light shines in the darkness” (John 1:5)


Another Easter meditation.

Last Monday I shared a post on the resurrection that linked Easter Sunday with the first day of creation. In Genesis, Sunday, the first day of the week, is the day God says His very first creative words, “Let there be light.” In the elegance of Latin, it’s simply “Fiat lux.” In the Gospels, Sunday is also the first day of the new creation when the Father spoke alive the corpse of Jesus. A magnificent mirror in time of what happens from all eternity in the Holy Trinity — as we say in the Creed:

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made

And through Him all things were re-made as, at the resurrection, the “Light from Light” shone into the darkness of sin and death.

Well, two things happened after I wrote my Easter Monday post that further electrified my imagination. First, as I was praying that same Creed at Mass last Friday (which was the subject of last Saturday’s post), that “light” connection again resonated powerfully in me. Here’s what I wrote after Mass about the experience of praying the Creed:

And as Fr. Joe and I recited the Creed together, this stanza sprang alive:

“For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.”

“Rose again” filled me with a stunning image. A sunrise, a brilliant red-giant sun silently breaking above the color-splashed horizon. Filling the world with its own lovely, self-diffusive light. I thought, it’s the nature of the sun to give its light away. Light that illumines, heats, communicating both truth and love. It can do no other. Like the philosophical axiom, ‘bonum est diffusivum’ [the good is self-diffusive], which is the precise meaning of the biblical phrase, “God is love.”

Then I saw this clearly: self-giving light is the whole movement of the Creed. Creation ex nihilo [out of nothing], incarnation, crucifixion, burial into the darkness, resurrection, ascension, pentecost and the judgment day of the returning Christ whose glory illumines all history, revealing whether deeds were done in the light or in the light-hoarding darkness. This whole biblical/theological vision of things, so absurdly rich, makes even more clear how the phrase “in accordance with the Scriptures” means vastly more than merely proof texting biblical quotes to show where the Paschal Mystery is found in the Old Testament. The Paschal Mystery is absolutely everywhere …

All I can think of right now is the solemn majesty of the Orthodox St. Vladimir seminary choir singing the Creed. As I listen, I can feel the Light streaming, softly shining on my face …

That same Friday night of the Mass I describe above, just before I went to bed, I listened to a portion of a lecture on YouTube. This one was by the Jesuit priest Fr. Robert Spitzer on the Shroud of Turin (the much studied herringbone-patterned linen cloth that has long been thought to be the burial shroud of Christ). In the last part of his lecture he made a point that floored me and I yelled aloud, “What?!” My son across the hall yelled, “You okay, Dad?” I said, “Yeah, you’ve got to hear this!”

It’s really a-ma-zing.

I queued the video here to the portion of the lecture where he makes this point:

The Shroud “negative”, front and back:

5 comments on ““The light shines in the darkness” (John 1:5)

  1. Jennifer says:

    (Thanks for the warning…I prepared myself not to yell since everyone else is asleep…But MAN! I wanted to jump around the room!)
    I am a shroud devotee (or total obsessive) and had not heard numbers put to that before…Wow! wow!

    But before thay, what you wrote: God is love=good is self-diffusive!!! So much in that!!

    Thanks be to God for all of it!

  2. DismasDancing says:

    Bro Tom:

    While in HS and in prep for entering the seminary, I had a growing curiosity about, and ultimately a deepening reverence for, all things taking place during Holy Week. As I’ve said before, Holy Week, most especially the Triduum, takes me to spaces and places that convey all too deeply how richly UN-deserving I am of what Our Lord endured to save me from myself. Events, personalities, physical and spiritual phenomena, players, etc. The “whys?” were there, at least in a catechism sense, but the “how’s?” fascinated me. “Haunted” was appropriate at times.

    In a small school, especially back when Moses and I were HS classmates, libraries were not equipped with large repositories of docs that would answer many of my questions. Nor did I expect to find much on the Agony in Gethsemane, Christ’s Crucifixion, or the Shroud of Turin. Amazingly, in a small town, Baptist-belt public library, I found Dr. Barbet’s wonderful book, “A Doctor at Calvary”, and a beautifully-written documentary on the history of the Sacred Shroud and some initial scientific examinations shortly before the world went really nuts trying to prove it a fake. Finding anything on the Agony in the Garden other than mere historical footnotes proved an impossible quest. But learn I did through the years. Once again, the Holy Spirit has shown me, via my perfect human hindsight, just how present He is—and forever has been—the driving force behind all that I have undertaken to know about my faith.

    There is a magnificent denouement within this non-fiction tale, my dear brother. For all of us, whether we like to believe it of ourselves or not, are occasionally like Thomas, Didymus. We believe. But sometimes the “tale” gets a bit too tall and the seed of doubt, no matter how tiny, gets sown somewhere in the deepest bowels of our souls. Over the past 50 years or so, the plethora of documents re the authenticity of the Shroud and the doubts on the truth of the Resurrection have been sublimely hateful. Faith has kept me alive, Praise God! But it always helps to have that extra boost of medicinal iron to strengthen and fortify one’s core—whether physically or spiritually.
    Your last two posts (including the discourse btwn you and Jen) have done much to remind me of a youthful search for truth that left indelible marks on an older man’s soul. Truly, I long for the day when those magnificent Triduum hours of song, meditation, reflection, remorse, momentary ecstasy, hope, glorious exultation—ALL, find me kneeling before the narrow gate, pleading permission to enter. In spite of my brokenness. Perhaps, through the Divine Mercy, because of it!

    Listening to the beautiful “Credo” and to the scientific facts confirming what I had come to believe concerning the “how?” of the Shroud’s image transports me to the side of Thomas in the Upper Room. Perhaps you will never possibly know the personal impact of your last few posts. Then again, given your words of intro, I think you already do and have joined me in bowing before Him in tearful silence averring, “My Lord and My God!”

    “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God….”

    Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!

    In Pace! Pie Jesu, miserere nobis!


  3. Jennifer says:

    DD: like for you, Tom’s writing for me is lighter fluid on my soul. It keeps those flames of faith burning when the logs have been doused with water. So grateful for the discourse here and for your rich, rich reflections. Deo gratias!!!
    One day i pray all of us here will meet and go crazy talking about all His Awesomeness in person… Wouldn’t that be so wonderful? Squee!!

    • John Schwab says:

      Amen! My dear friend in Christ. Amen! You are so very kind in your comments. They are humbly appreciated.

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