Throughout Christian teaching we use the symbol of light. In the Third Sunday of Ordinary time this year St. Matthew (4:14 – 15) quotes the Prophet Isaiah (9:1), “the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.” In John’s Gospel, Christ says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). This is a really good metaphor. Vision is really important to us, but doesn’t work without light. In our physical life light shows us obstacles to be avoided and the path to take toward our destination. This is a tangible metaphor for our direction in life. As teenagers we couldn’t physically see how our life should unfold. As adults we don’t have road signs, that we can see and read, telling us to do this or that.
Christ said, “I am the light of the world.” He gives us a truth to live by, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). Christ gave the light of his truth to the Church. At the Last Supper He said, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:25 – 26). There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the truths of our faith, “Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure.” (CCC 89, Jn 8:31-32). The question is “If I don’t open my physical eyes, light does me no good. Am I opening my spiritual eyes to see the lights Jesus is giving me?”
But there is more to our relationship with God than hearing the word. As St. James wrote, we must not simply be hearers of the Word, but doers, (James 1:22). That demands a relationship with God. God is not an abstract figure. God is a person, infinite, all powerful, but a person who wants a relationship with us. We build our relationship with God in the same way we build our human relationships, by presence and communication. We encounter God when we participate in the sacramental life of the Church. At Mass we encounter God in the Eucharist. When we go to confession it is God who forgives our sins. We communicate with God when we pray, reading the bible or the Liturgy of the Hours.
We are made part of the family of God by our baptism. We strengthen that family bond at Mass and in our daily prayer. We need to remember that being part of a family carries responsibilities. That is a central point St. Matthew makes when is says;
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:13 – 16)
Christ is the light of the world, but, we, as His family need to show that light in our own lives. We strengthen our family relationship with Christ at Mass and in prayer. We bring the light of Christ into the world by the way we live. When we live our faith the people around us know we are Catholic, but we always need to remember, they see what we do and hear what we say.