“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.” (Mt 5:14)
Brothers, indeed light helps us to see further, to see others, and to see ourselves. Someone walking in a dark alley or riding a bike on an unlit path, can’t see where they are going or look back to where they have been, they can’t see themselves or others either. For this reason, journeys through the dark are often fraught with danger and the cause of much fear and anxiety. Darkness is not a thing or a part of creation of course, but rather it’s an absence of light. Some like it as a place to hide because of guilt or shame, others in order to surprise unsuspecting targets. As Saint JP2 often reminded us however, the Lord does not want us to be afraid. This may explain why our Lord’s very first words or commandment was “Let there be light.” (Gen 1:3)
Our Lord Jesus brought His first followers to Him through a shining star, and years later, He Himself would “shone like the sun”. (Mt 17:2) Like David, we too can say “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” (Ps 27:1) But too much light, can be blinding too, especially if you just spent a long time in the dark. Waking up in the morning to sunlight often feels nice and warm, but everyone still covers their eyes until they take the time to adjust. Even though St Paul rode the road to Damascus in plain daylight, he wasn’t ready for the Light he was about to encounter, and so he fell to the ground and covered his eyes. To help him adjust to this new brightness in his life, God sent him Barnabas. Like the sun, the Son too helps us see the world better and not be cold through rays of light. Barnabas was one of the rays sent to Paul. Which ray(s) has He sent you?
I was recently told by a fellow brother, the story of a priest named Fr Ted Colleton. According to him, this man of God “spoke of his religion as a matter of fact”, allied himself with anyone who was ready to defend life, and “made others feel welcomed”. He came to know this priest through a Cursillo retreat he attended, after a friend persistently invited him to go. At that time, the Catholic Church was last thing in this brother’s mind. Through an intense two week dialogue with yet another good shepherd, Father McCormick, the lost sheep was found. Rays of light…
Saint John Paul 2 often spoke about watching his father praying as his inspiration. C.S. Lewis credits JRR Tolkien for his conversion from atheism to Christianity, and Saint Augustine credits the prayers of his mother and the preaching of St Ambrose for his own conversion. Saints, Doctors of the Church, popes… all had rays of light sent from the Son.
At a parish in Halton, i recently experienced this Eucharistic minister who almost with tears in her eyes, looked at my little boy and said “God loves you”, paused a little bit in silence, before turning to me and reverently say “The Body of Christ”. To the 84% of Catholics who don’t know, understand or believe the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, I hope and pray they encounter this kind of love and reverence for our Lord. The Eucharist was a difficult teaching to accept in Jesus’ own ministry (Jn 6:66), remains difficult to understand today, and will continue to be so in the future. Little Li helped Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen better appreciate this gift; the little lady at church is helping us today. While churches were closed in Halton region, in St Catherines, a young priest held Mass in the parking lot, at times in sub-zero temperatures, thereby sustaining our family with this precious Bread. Rays of light…
G.K. Chesterton once said that “the Church is bigger from the inside”, and I believe the same is true about our own selves too. Inside every human being is the capacity to be more than merely a body, to be more than a recipient of light. By opening her heart to love those in some of the most destitute situations, and opening her mind to the possibility that Jesus, despite the circumstances, is present inside all of them, Saint Mother Theresa changed their experience of the world. She changed her experience of the world. Both found joy. “The Church increases, grows, and develops through the holiness of her faithful…” (Article 2045 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church). Who do you think is waiting for your ray of light? Even the tiniest candle can brighten the biggest of rooms.
Brothers, as you light the candles of advent, take a moment to reflect on the rays of light sent into your life, as well as, the people around you that could use a little warmth. “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (Jm 5:16). In his book Orthodoxy, G.K Chesterton wrote, “Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.” In this note, men we do not love the Church because she is great. She is great because we love her and He loves us.
Have a Blessed Merry Christmas everyone!
St Joseph: Pray for us.
If publishing article online please attribute source Band of Christian Brothers with link to original article.