Easter Sunday: The Light That Pierces The Darkest Places

BY MAUREEN O’CONNELL, PH.D. | March 31st, 2024
Today’s readings
Versión en español

I had a Mary Magdalene resurrection morning experience two years ago when my husband and I visited Ireland. We decided to check out the Carrowkeel passage tombs in county Sligo, a series of rock-strewn mounds constructed before the pyramids. Each features a single passageway to a small burial chamber at the very center of each mound. They weren’t exactly easy to find. We navigated an unpaved road and then a two-mile uphill walk where wind and sheep outnumbered signage and other humans.

Photo of the Carrowkeel passage tombs in county Sligo, Ireland provided by the author.

When we finally stood before one of these marvels, I was struck by the fact that the entrance to the passage was not sealed. There was no stone. On purpose. Each structure was positioned so that on the morning of the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, rays of the rising sun cross the threshold, stream down the passageway, and illuminate the burial chamber. 

As I took in that stoneless entrance, I found myself wanting to shout – to the wind and the sheep – something I realized deep in my spirit: Light wins! Life wins! 

Like our ancient ancestors, who built these passage tombs with a resilient hope that light would pierce the darkest of places on the darkest of days, Mary Magdalene oriented herself toward the Light. Of the followers of Jesus, she is the one who remembers Jesus’ promise about the third day. She risks trekking to the tomb to bear witness to that promise. She encounters the exposed entrance and is filled with an energy that turns her into yeast, which St. Paul invokes in his letter the Corinthians, for the otherwise hunkered down community of disciples. Her steadfast faith in the “light that overcomes the darkness” brought others to it. 

On this Resurrection morning, we too find ourselves amid dark times. And yet, by orienting ourselves to the light – to Jesus, the crucified and risen Christ – we join Mary Magdalene in participating in God’s promise to refresh the face of the earth. Alleluia! 

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