Jesus Risen is the Light of the World

Homily for Easter Sunday

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Newgrange in Ireland is one of the best known prehistoric tombs in the world. It is about 40 miles northwest of Dublin and was built about 3000 B.C. It is about 500 years older than the Great Pyramid at Giza. What is special about Newgrange is that every year on the Winter Solstice on December 21st as the sun rises its light shines through the 60 foot (18m) long passageway which leads into the central burial chamber. The tomb was built in such a way that at sunrise on the shortest day of the year the sun illuminates the central burial chamber for about seventeen minutes. Why was Newgrange built in this way? While no one knows for sure there has been speculation that the builders believed the sunlight would take the souls of the dead to the next life. We could say they were looking for Jesus and belief in the resurrection, and this was the closest they got to it. How blessed we are to know Jesus, the one whom they sought but did not yet know.

What a joy it is for us to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The true light that enlightens the world is not the sun but Jesus. His resurrection has scattered the darkness and brought us the true light. Many times in the Gospel of John Jesus reminds us that he is the light of the world (John 1:9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46). Those who accept the Shroud of Turin as the burial cloth of Jesus believe that its image was quite literally formed by the light of Jesus. Skeptics have proposed many theories for how the image of the crucified man got imprinted on the Shroud of Turin. But the image is not made by pigment or paint and is only on the surface of the cloth fibers, it doesn’t penetrate into the cloth fibers. Those who accept the Shroud of Turin as the burial cloth of Jesus suggest that the explanation for the formation of the image on the cloth is that something like radiation put the image on the cloth at the moment of Jesus’ resurrection. The light of Jesus at the moment of his resurrection has left us his image.

Shroud of Turin, picture from

In Guadalupe last year (2007) Jesus showed himself to be the light of the world. A press release from the Association of Catholic Nurses, Doctors and Health Professionals in France April 30 2007, reports that after Mass an unexplained light came from the image of the Virgin Mary at the Shrine of Guadalupe in Mexico City immediately after the municipal council of Mexico City legalized abortion on April 24 2007. An intense light emanated from Our Lady’s abdomen, forming a brilliant halo in the shape of an embryo. A scientist, Luis Girault, studied the negative which had been sent to France by the Mexican Centro de Bioethica Rioplatense, and declared that the picture had not been modified or altered and that the light does not come from any reflection, but literally comes from the inside of the image of the Virgin. The light is very white, pure and intense, different from regular lights produced by flash cameras. It is encircled with a halo and appears to float inside the abdomen of the Virgin and has the form and measurements of an embryo. Furthermore, looking at the light more closely shows that it has some areas of shade like the characteristics of an embryo in the womb. Jesus is indeed the light of the world. (Follow up press release by the Association of Catholic Nurses, Doctors and Health Professionals in France June 1st 2007)

strange light in Guadalupe, picture from press release

stange light from Guadalupe, picture from press release

In the second reading from the letter to the Colossians we were reminded of our baptism,

you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:1-3)

Because of our baptism we have a glorious future ahead of us, we can share in the resurrection of Jesus. Therefore we are to “seek what is above” and not get lost in the things of this world; we are to “think of what is above, not on what is on earth” Because when you were baptized you began a new life in Christ, “for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

When Mary Magdalene could not find Jesus she said to Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciple, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him.” (John 20:2) Like Mary Magdalene search for the risen Jesus today and he will allow you to find him. Surely there is nothing better that the Lord would want than for you to find him. Search for the risen Jesus this Easter and meet the risen Jesus. For us, sharing in the resurrection of Jesus and meeting the risen Jesus is not just something we hope for in the future, it is also for us now. Jesus offers life now. The new life in the resurrection is for now. Don’t miss out on the offer of Jesus’ life to you now. Don’t waste life. Live life with Jesus. Live the life of Jesus now.

Those who built the burial tomb at Newgrange were looking for Jesus and his resurrection unknown to themselves. What a privilege for us that we believe in the resurrection of Jesus and celebrate it here today and thanks be to God for our baptism that through it we share in the resurrection of Jesus.

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered in a parish in Maryland near where I have joined the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for Easter Sunday

The Resurrection of Jesus reminds us of the glorious future awaiting us

Christ is Risen! 2011

Jesus Continues in the Church 2015

Jesus' Resurrection shows He is the Answer to our Questions 2016

Related Homilies: excerpts of funeral homilies

belief in the resurrection (excerpt of funeral homily)

cloth over Jesus’ head, The Sudarium

stories about the next life and death