It is our experience that we can see things when there is light; in the absence of light we experience darkness, and in the darkness we are unable to see anything. When people do not see the light of the sun they experience depression, sadness; whereas when people experience the light of the sun, they are happy and they celebrate. In the light we can recognize people and things and beauty; whereas darkness is the sign of meaninglessness. Hence the light gives meaning to life. The greatest punishment one can get is solitary confinement, where people cannot see the light, nor commune with other people. Such situation can make people crazy. Without light people cannot live.
Created light : sun, moon, stars
Therefore, the Creator of the world created light first: “Let there be light” and there was light. God saw that light was good. And he separated light from darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness night (Gen.1.3-5).The light was the sign of God and darkness was the sign of absence of light or God. At the command of God, Moses stretched out his hand, and the whole Egypt was in total darkness except the areas where the Israelites lived; the Egyptians could not
Disputation with the Doctors – D. di Buoninsegna (WGoA)
see anyone else or leave their place for 3 days (Ex.10.23). This shows that Light was the sign of God’s presence and darkness was the sign of the opposite, lack of God’s providence.
As the sign of God’s presence and providence He created the sun to give light on the earth during the day and moon and the stars at night. (Gen.1.14-18). In their ignorance the nations worshipped sun and moon and stars, that were created by God, instead God the Creator Himself. God made it clear to His Chosen People through Moses: “When you look up to the heavens and see the sun, the moon, and the stars all the host of heaven do not be led astray and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples everywhere under heaven” (Deut.4.19)
GOD – The uncreated light
God is eternal light. “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn.1.5). This Divine light became man in Jesus Christ, the Divine Word. He lived and showed the divine Light to all human beings. “In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. (Jn.1.4)
Yearning for God in Pre-Christian Religions
Every human heart yearns for light, life and truth. The people of Eastern religions sing in a prayer:
Thamaso ma jyothir gamaya,
Mruthyo ma amritham gamaya…. (in Hinduism)
Lead me from untruth to truth,
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to life.
In non-Christian religions, especially in Hinduism and Parsee the people see God in the luminaries like sun and moon, planets, and fire and worship them, which is a sign of their longing for the uncreated Light.
JESUS, the uncreated Light in the world
I am the light of the world – Bantry Church of St. Brendan, Detail
It is God who is Truth, Light and Life, who sustains us in His truth, leads us into His light and extends His life. He sent Jesus, His Son into the world in answer to the prayers of people; to satisfy their longing. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life”; “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (Jn. 14.6; 8.12). “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness” (Jn. 12.46). St. John testifies about Jesus, the Word has become flesh: “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (Jn. 1.9).
True believers reflect the Light of Christ to the world
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the disciples: “You are the light of the world, A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt.5. 14-16). Jesus taught and did what His Father revealed and thus lived as the light of the world. He taught us how we can be the light of the world. When we do good works, we are in the light; whereas when we do evil, we are in the darkness. As the Holy Spirit says through St. John: “This is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved rather darkness than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light. But those who do what is true come to the light” (Jn 3.19-21). St. Paul exhorts: “Let us lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light” (Rom. 13. 12). St. Arnold Janssen prayed: “May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the Light of the Word and the Spirit of Grace”
“Those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God”(Jn.3.21). “Whoever says, “I am in the light”, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling” (I Jn. 2.9, 10). So when we live God’s word, we share the light of God. And only then can we bring forth the fruits of the light which consist in goodness, righteousness and truth. The Psalmist, king David, was convinced that God’s word is ‘a lamp to his feet and light to his path’ because he has experienced that it is the ‘unfolding of God’s words that gives light’ (Ps. 119.105, 130). Nowadays many do not want to live God’s word and hence are not able to experience the light of the Lord. “There are those who rebel against the light, who are not acquainted with its ways and do not stay in its paths” (Job. 24.13).
The mission of Jesus is entrusted to every disciple : ‘To be the light of the world.’ (Mt.5.14). “So the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts. 13.47). Many people around us are groping in the darkness of sin, doubt and confusion. Like St. Paul, let us be aware of this mission, that the Lord is sending us “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus” (Acts. 26. 18). When we are in the light of the Lord, we can be “a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of the infants” (Rom. 2.19).The Lord is inviting all of us, as He invited Bl. Mother Theresa: “Come, be my light”.
In this Year of Faith let us become more aware of this mission to become the light of the world by believing the truth of the Word of God and living it. “We are the aroma of Christ for God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Cor. 2.15). May the Holy Spirit of God enlighten our minds so that we may reveal Christ to the world.
Fr. J. Mariakumar, Mary Pereira