My dear friends,
As we seek to understand together the great gift and blessings of knowing Christ, of following Christ, today’s Gospel offers us another reason to be so deeply grateful for being one of His disciples. Jesus states it very simply and clearly: “I am the light of the world, who ever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12) As we open ourselves to Jesus, the source of light, our lives become enlightened, able to radiate the same light to others.
This is one of the reasons why I want to follow Jesus: I don’t want to walk in darkness — I want my whole life to be lived in the Light. But what does Jesus mean by light? And in contrast, what does it mean for someone to be in darkness?
We all know how necessary light is for both our eyes and for seeing the objects that light illuminates. Without light, we would all be like those who are blind. I remember the true story of a friend of mine, Fr. Scott Carl, who was leading a group of religious sisters through the elaborate maze of underground tunnels in the catacombs of Rome. The management running this pilgrimage site did not realize they were down there and turned off the lights. It was so dark, they couldn’t even see their hands in front of their faces. Providentially, one of them had a digital camera, and it was by the light of the camera screen that they slowly found their way to the entrance.
Spiritual darkness, which is a form of blindness, is so much more tragic than physical blindness. The light that Jesus brings to us can be summed up in 4 key revelations:
- Jesus reveals His heavenly Father to us and the plan of His merciful love.
- Jesus reveals himself as the Savior of the world — the only Savior who can free us from sin and death and open the way to the Eternal Life of heaven.
- Jesus reveals our calling to become the beloved sons and daughters of God, through water, the Spirit and the gift of faith.
- Jesus reveals the way to walk as children of God — free, joyful, united in love, pouring out our lives for the spread and growth of the Kingdom of God.
Biblical darkness, therefore, is not knowing God, not knowing these ultimate, life-saving, life-giving truths. The saying, “ignorance is bliss,” does not apply here. The good news is that Jesus can lead anyone out of this darkness, out of this ignorance that results in so many restless, miserable, diminished lives.
Jesus says that He is “the light of the world,” because it is through Jesus that we come to know the Father and His love for us. Through Jesus, we experience the power and mercy that saves us and sets us free. Through Jesus, we discover our true identity, dignity and worth as children of God; and it is through Jesus that we know the way that leads to a joyful, rich, and fruitful life, culminating in life eternal.
Jesus wants to spread this saving light everywhere, which is why He calls us to be His light in the world. The importance of this cannot be overlooked or taken lightly, for its impact is profound. To convey this, I want to close by quoting a reflection from Bishop Robert Barron, an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles:
“The weakness of Christian witness is what has allowed some of the worst elements of society to thrive, and some of the best elements to weaken and fail. How quickly we forget that the 20th century was the bloodiest century on record. And why? Because the Christianity of many had became so weak, so unconvincing, that dark movements like Nazism and Communism were allowed to carry out the death and extermination of millions of people. Evil triumphs, not because it is stronger than goodness—it triumphs because good people do nothing.
Where are the vibrant Christians of today to stem the tide of evil? Where are the Christians and church communities to bear witness against poverty, indecent internet and TV programming, attacks on innocent life, the secularization of Sundays, the anti Christian values being taught in some of our schools? In some areas, it appears that the Christianity of today is not strong enough; the faith of many not bright enough. A weak Christianity is a disaster for the world, as it is for families and marriages. You are the salt of the earth, if you go flat, the earth goes flat. You are a light of the world, if you cover it, the world becomes dark. You are the city on a hill to show others the way, if you lose that place, the world will lose its way.”
Jesus bless you,