Bearing the light of the Lamb
A reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C
by Deacon Eric Gurash
The Easter season is a time of hope, healing, and mission in our liturgical year. For the past six weeks we have encountered these themes time and again: Jesus has appeared to those who abandoned him, bringing peace and mercy; Jesus commissions them to go and feed his sheep, to bring his peace, love, and mercy to the world; and we've witnessed, in various ways, Peter, Paul, and the others manifesting the Risen Christ through words and deeds of hope, healing, and mercy throughout these holy days.
This Sunday, the Book of Revelation invites us to step back and look at the big picture of what this whole Christian endeavour is about. This book, which so often gets a bad rap for its sometimes odd and disturbing imagery, sheds light today on the meaning and purpose of the entire story of salvation, as discovered in Sacred Scripture and as discovered in our own lives. When speaking of this story of salvation, I will often start by underscoring the three things we know for sure from Scripture: 1) The first two chapters of Genesis tell us what God wanted in the beginning; 2) Genesis chapter three shows us what God got in the Fall of Adam and Eve; and 3) The Book of Revelation tells us in no uncertain terms, God gets what God wants in the end.
And one theme that pulls this all together is light. Light, the first word spoken over the waters of darkness and chaos. Light that dawned a new day after the flood. Light that led Israel through flood waters and wilderness. Light that came into the world though the world did not know it. Light that shines in the New Jerusalem infusing all things with its glory.
This light, which is the Lamb himself, the Christ, slain but not undone by the powers of darkness, is not some entirely transcendent force of nature. This Word of light is indeed the space where the divine and human have met in the kind of profound intimacy Jesus describes in this Sunday's Gospel. God’s desire is that we not just know about Him and His love and mercy. God desires to abide with us, to make a home in us that we, like the New Jerusalem of Revelation, might shine through and through with the light, love, and mercy of the Christ.
We are to be bearers of that light which shone in our dark churches at Easter: "a fire into many flames divided, yet never dimmed by the sharing of its light". This is our mission, bearing the light of the Lamb into the dark places of the lost, the forgotten, the lonely, the marginalized, and the alienated wherever we might encounter them.
In my own life and ministry, this has taken the form of a ministry of support for families suffering from mental health challenges. It seems an apt example during the month of May, a month traditionally marked for building awareness of mental health challenges.
My wife and I know first-hand the isolation and hopelessness that is found within the darkness of mental health challenges, an area that our family had struggled with, in silence, for decades.
We know too the great healing, hope, and profound freedom that comes from discovering the spirit-filled gift of courage that allowed us to begin breaking that silence and speaking more openly about our family struggles. We have been amazed, in the past four years, at how God has used the small space of healing he gave us in our own lives to create a growing space of light, hope, and consolation within the lives of others through our Emmaus Family Support ministry.
As we gather for and offer peer-led support alongside other families who have experienced similar struggles, we have become a dwelling place of the divine where we who were once marginalized now discover that the light of the New Jerusalem has descended into our midst. It is the light of non-judgmental listening, the light of hurting companions who discover Jesus walking at their side, the light of a God who has not abandoned us in our darkness but who has sent us to seek out and find each other bearing the light of the Lamb.
As the final celebrations of this Easter season begin with the Feast of the Ascension next week and Pentecost to follow, it is a perfect time for all of us to reflect on where and how we are each being called to bear our Easter light into the dark places we encounter. Who around you is in need of hope, peace, and healing? Who is alone and in need of companionship and accompaniment? How are you being called right now to become a bearer of God's love and mercy that our world might shine through and through with the light of the Lamb?
The readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C, are
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
Deacon Eric Gurash works as Director of Communications and Adult Faith Formation for the Archdiocese of Regina, Saskatchewan. As part of his ministry as deacon, he and his wife Melissa operate Emmaus Family Support, a peer-led ministry to mental health caregivers. During this Mental Health Awareness month of May, they ask for your prayerful support of this much needed ministry.