Having been raised in a Catholic school I probably have just as many memories from being in church and religion class than I do of anything else that happened in all those eight years. In fact more than fifty percent of my entire fifth grade year was one long religion class, but that’s a story all of its own. Back in those days the songs we sang in mass and in class tended to lean towards the peace, love, and harmony motif; think “Kumbaya.” There was one song we sang quite often called “Pass it On”. It starts, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going / and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing.” I liked the song, but I couldn’t sing it because it was always in a key too high for me. So it became a joke to sing it really high and ridiculous. Maybe that’s why I have remembered it all these years. And still, when it replays in my mind, it is in my too high and ridiculous voice. Ironically that song came to mind in mass tonight in a moment that was definitely not ridiculous.
Easter Vigil mass is my favorite mass of the year. It starts in complete darkness and after the first few readings the new Paschal candle is lit and the flame is shared to light the candles we are given before mass begins. Bit by bit, flame by flame, the light spreads until at last the entire congregation is warming up in the glow of candlelight. That one flame is enough to share with everyone in the church, and yet it is never depleted. As long as the flame is fed it will burn brightly and sustain a light that can be infinitely shared and multiplied. In the end that single flame is responsible for bringing the church from total darkness to a light bright enough to see clearly.
Like the song says, “that’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it.” The light from the Paschal candle is meant to symbolize God’s light. Substitute the word, love, for light, and the meaning is the same. Just like the flame, God’s love can be infinitely shared and multiplied as long as it is fed and protected. God’s love is alive. It can’t be hidden away or abused. It must be fed through prayer, reading His Word, and sharing it with others. Spread His love to everyone. Pass it on. Pass it on.