Third Sunday of the Year: Enlightened
Today’s readings begin with the passage from Isaiah that we proclaim at the Christmas Midnight Mass: the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, on those who live in a land of deep shadows, a light has shone. The Gospel repeats this reading, but immediately adds, “From that moment Jesus began his preaching.”
I was thinking about how this passage relates to our young people living in a world where at times they have to struggle to survive. I was considering those who will be confirmed this Saturday by Bishop Lynch as well as those of us who hopefully have been growing every year in the confirmation of our faith.
There is certainly a great deal of darkness in our world. We all run into people who are liars and cheats. Their selfishness affects us all. Our young people have some of these people in their classes. Sadly, many of these people will enter the adult world continuing to define reality into whatever suits them, and continuing to dismiss those they hurt with the phrase, “That’s their problem.” These are the people in class who do little when you have a group project, when others do most of the work, and then they take credit for the whole thing. They reflect a dark side of the business world. It is quite often that people, who are really liars and cheats, will ask you if you could think of a better way to do something at work. Then they will run to the boss and tell them that you are disgruntled while at the same time suggesting a wonderful way to make the company better, your suggestion, of course. It is the darkness of the dog eat dog world of business. We have a choice: we can give in to the temptation to reduce ourselves to the level of an animal, or, we can bring His Light to the darkness.
I want to give you a second example of the darkness of the world that many experience. There are people who keep the world in darkness because they are users, particularly in the area of love, or for them, basically, the area of lust. I hope and pray that this has never happens to any of you who read this no matter what your age, but the fact is that there are people who say, “I love you,” but who do not have the slightest clue as to what love is. These are the people who jump out of a relationship, run from it, when they realize they have to sacrifice themselves for the relationship. For them the crucifix is a piece of jewelry, not a reminder of how a Christian loves. That person who used you by saying, “I love you,” and then dumped you or forced you to dump him or her when you said, “No,” is the same person who will run from a marriage when the commitment is too demanding, or, sometimes, demanding in any way at all.
I can go on and on with the negatives, but bring them up to emphasize this point: We are not these people. We are not the people of darkness. We are people of light. We are not condemned to live as liars, cheats or users, or whatever. We have seen a great light.
Sometimes a person will say to me, “I don’t know what to do. Should I just keep going out with him or her or should I break up? Should I get help for another problem I have or just hope it goes away? I don’t know what to do. I’m in the dark here.”
No, you are not in the dark. Nor am I. We are not the people living in the land of shadows. We are the people of light. We have been enlightened by Christ. We have to base our decisions on the Light of Christ that glows within us. He comes into our lives, and He changes our lives in such a fundamental way that we have no choice but to bring His light to others.
“I don’t know what to do.” Sure you do. Do that which adds light to the world, not that which is just part of its darkness. Sure, it may hurt to break a relationship that is going bad. No matter how much any decision might cost us, we will always be happy with ourselves when our choices are determined by the Light of the Lord.
This Saturday over a hundred members of our parish will be confirmed. Most of the rest of us have been confirmed already. We have all been chosen to receive this sacrament because God calls us to enlighten the world with his Presence, the Light of Christ. God does not want anyone to remain in the darkness. He is calling you and me to prevent this. He is calling us to enlighten the world.
Have you ever seen the stars on a clear night when you are far away from man made lights, say on a camping trip or in some remote place. Once yours eyes adjust, we realize that so many stars fill the sky that it seems to be on fire. It is wonderful. It might be night around us, but we are not in the dark. We are in starlight. Here is another stellar reality: We are the stars in God’s sky, every one of us. And just as each star shines light on the world, every one of us is necessary to illumine the world with His Light.
Each one of us is not just one of billions of people. Each of us is special. Every single one of us is a star. We have been called by Christ to enlighten the world. If we live in His Light, we will bring His Light to others.
I want to conclude with simple maxim from Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta:
Live with Jesus,
and you will live for Jesus.”