The Church Must Be Light, That the World May See

lightIn the Gospel today (Monday of the 25th Week of the Year) the Lord says,

No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light (Lk 8:16).

In other words, the Lord lit the light of the Church in order to give light to the world and to be seen. The world is in darkness; the moral darkness of these times is very deep.

You don’t light light. It is the darkness that needs the light. Light is meant to be seen. There are too many “undercover Christians,” “secret agent saints,” and “hidden holy ones.” Jesus didn’t light our light so that we could hide under a basket out of fear or secrecy. He wants the Church to shine; He wants you and me to shine. He wants every Christian to be a light so that we’re like a city on a hill! He wants us to shine so that we can’t be hidden.

If we don’t shine, then the world is dark. That is because we are not just a light, we are (in Christ) the light. If you want to know why the world is in darkness, you don’t need to look very far. We like to think that things are a mess because the wrong party is in power, or Hollywood is too secular, etc. But if we are the light of the world, then the world is dark because we are not shining the light of Christ. Light scatters darkness; it does not blame it. This darkness has happened on our watch. As a Church, we have been too content to hide our light under a basket. That is why the world is dark. If we collectively do our work, then the darkness does not stand a chance. But too many people—clergy and lay—remain fearfully silent while the purveyors of darkness are loud and proud.

To all of this, Jesus simply says, “You are the light of the world.”

Let’s look at some details about the light:

The CAUSE – Jesus describes himself as the One who lights a lamp. We are to yield to Christ, to allow Him to shine through us. He is the cause of our light. Let your light shine. There’s an old gospel song that says, “When you see me trying to do good, trying to live as a Christian should, it’s just Jesus, Jesus in me.”

The COST – The purpose of light is to shine, but there is no shining without burning. Shining costs us something. It may be Christ’s light, but it is through us that He shines. This means sacrifice on our part. It means letting Him use us. It means not always sleeping in when we want to. It means not just sitting at home and saying “Ain’t it awful.” It means getting out there and getting involved. It means risking a few things. It means being targeted and visible. It means being identified with someone (Jesus) who is hated by many. And in a world that prefers the darkness to the light (cf John 3:19-21), it means being called harsh, out-of-touch, and hateful. There is no shining without burning.

The CONCRETENESS – Letting our light shine is no abstract thing. It involves concrete behavior. Jesus talks about deeds. Your light shines by the way you live, the choices you make, the behavior you exhibit. The light shines when Christians get married and stay married, stay faithful to their commitments, and are people of their word. Our light shines when we tell the truth instead of lying, live chastely instead of fornicating, and behave courteously and respectfully. It shines when we respect life; it shines when we stop behaving recklessly. Our light shines when we clean up our language, give to the poor, and work for justice. Our light shines when we refuse to view pornographic, violent, or degrading material. Our light shines when we love instead of hate, when we seek reconciliation instead of vengeance, and when we pray for our enemies. Our light shines when we walk uprightly and speak the truth in love, without compromise. That’s when our light shines.

The CONSEQUENCE – God is glorified when our light shines. We should not act or get involved merely to satisfy our own anger or to fight for our own sake. We are light so as to glorify God. It is not about our winning; it is about God shining and being glorified. Too often when we do get involved we merely seek to win an argument or to be praised rather than to glorify God. We must pray that we have good intentions, for it is possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason. The desired result is God’s glory not ours.

Turn on the lights! It’s time to shine or else it’ll be over soon. Are you ready to shine? The Church is not just any light, the Church (by God’s grace) is the only light there is at all. As a member of Christ’s Body the Church, what are you doing to shine?


3 Replies to “The Church Must Be Light, That the World May See”

  1. “But too many people — clergy and lay — remain fearfully silent while the purveyors of darkness are loud and proud.”

    How very true this is!
    I recently spoke out for God on a certain matter of morality within the church itself, concerning a priest (no names – no location) that I knew personally who is living in a same-sex relationship and yet being permitted to continue administering the sacraments as a serving priest of the church. Let me make it very clear that I was concerned in the main with the bad example being set. I certainly do ‘not’ condemn the man (neither of them), and I am ‘not’ judging them either, that’s God’s prerogative; we must all treat, and care for, everyone with the same love that God has for each and every one of us, but I ‘am’ judging this kind of behaviour being permitted to continue openly in the church – especially in the light of what Pope Francis has been trying desperately hard to do about proper relationships in the family and in the church, etc.,- ‘Amoris Laetitia’.
    My humble contention is that it is extremely hard for the Pope to teach the church and its people (not to mention people outside of the church!) what it is that our Lord requires of us, when the bishop tacitly permits this kind arrangement.
    I wrote to the bishop concerned who – not a great surprise really! – did not reply. He never does!
    So I wrote to another senior diocesan priest. He ‘did’ reply. But he told me in no uncertain terms that “it was not my business” – that I should keep quiet and, in effect, not upturn the apple-cart! In short – “don’t make waves as it doesn’t look good for the church, you know.”
    Well – I felt then and I still feel now that, we who have any kind of concern for letting God’s light of love and justice shine in this world, all have a responsibility to shine that light on the darkness within our own church as well as outside of it – only then will the church and its inherent truth become relevant again in this dark and evil world – the majority of whose people generally think we are a joke!
    Indeed, my concern in this respect was raised especially when someone I know to be deeply ‘anti-Catholic’, remonstrated with me that if this kind of thing went on in the church, then surely that meant that the church approved of it! A difficult one to answer, when the wrong example is being set!
    I sincerely pray God that I personally do not have any secret sins that would bring the church into disrepute and that I will be resolute in ensuring that I don’t – but – I also pray for the grace to point out, in all charity, error wherever it raises its ugly head.
    If the clergy won’t do it – then I/we have to.
    Thank you, as ever, Mgr Charles, for continuing to point us in the right direction and shining the true light on the real truth for all to see.
    “To all of this, Jesus simply says, “’You’ are the light of the world.”
    God bless us all.

    1. When you get right down to it – where is this Priest leading his people? That is a question everyone in a leadership position needs to frequently ask themselves. Where am I leading my people? In law enforcement am I leading them to loss of a job, prison, or to good pastures?!?

      Where the rubber meets the road when a Priest steps out of the Light and into the darkness of same sex acts that cry out to Heaven where do you think he’ll be leading the sheep with the many opportunities he has to tell the truth or to deceive?!?

      It would truly be merciful to remove him for the sake of his soul that he might turn again – to God! And even more critical for all the souls that can be led out of the light and into the darkness.

      If you want to understand Leadership – you and I need only learn our Catholic Faith for when we do that we learn about Jesus Who taught Himself. He did not teach something apart from him as if I taught a class in something. There will never be a greater Leader to walk the face of the earth! The essence of leadership is to do the right thing (whether people like it or not) and to care whether your people live or they die.

      Pray for this Priest and those who are responsible for showing him authentic mercy! We need as C.S. Lewis said – men with chests.

  2. Some more thoughts on “the cost.” When you light a candle as it burns the candle diminishes, it decreases. “I must decrease…” Also fire is hot and inside God’s grace we’ll be untouched by fire (think Daniel 3:24). However, outside His grace we can only get so close to fire without recoiling. Fire can burn if we’re not well disposed! We need the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit that we might be ignited! I recall a Catholic preacher awhile back telling this story:

    From the Desert Fathers a young monk was sort of justifying himself to an elder monk; ‘I live my rule, I pray seven times a day, fast on Wednesdays & Fridays. I keep my little rule very well. The old Father smiled at him and shook his head. He held out his hands and his fingers turned into burning torches. The old Father said; ‘But why not become ALL fire!!!’

    Luke 12: 49* “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!

    Please God cast and fill us with the holy fire of the Holy Spirit. As my Bishop often says; May God give us this grace.

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