Fire and Light
“Now no man lighting a candle covereth it with a vessel,
or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it upon a candlestick,
that they who come in may see the light. For there is
not any thing secret that shall not be made manifest,
nor hidden, that shall not be known and come abroad.
Take heed therefore how you hear. For whosoever hath,
to him shall be given: and whosoever hath not, that
also which he thinketh he hath, shall be taken away
(St. Luke 8.16-18)
Our Contention with Darkness
At first glance,
the Gospel of today appears to be stating what is quite obvious. Everyone
knows that a covered light it will soon be extinguished, and if we were
to place it under a bed it would be without effect, for it could not
be seen. A light, we all understand, needs to be placed in such a way
that it illuminates its surroundings.
In Psalm 119 (118) David exclaims, “Thy
Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path!”.
Today Christ tells us that His word — which we
have received, that we have made our own — must not become a light concealed:
it is given to be shared with others. We are not mere spectators in
this drama of salvation that is still unfolding before us. We must enact,
speak, proclaim, what has been given to us. The very thing imparted
to us and that we hold most sacred we must, in turn, out of love and
in obedience, impart to others. The unspeakable beauty of our sacred
faith cannot, must not, be buried in a field, hidden under pride, concealed
beneath the fear of reproach. Our shameless and undying love for Him
should be, was given us to be, a beacon for others, offering direction,
consolation, love, and yes, even salvation.
Our own faith grows to the degree that it is shared. Faith, loaves,
fish, God multiplies everything good; gives beyond measure, unstintingly,
generously, lovingly. Nothing God gives us is to be kept for ourselves
alone. It is given to be multiplied in others.
The fact that all things will be made known, that all things will be
revealed is at once challenging, consoling, and frightening. These words
challenge us to live in the truth, they challenge our deceptions and
lies and call us into God’s light.
They console us when we are caught in the snare of injustice, in the
complexities of misunderstandings, when we bear calumny, reproach, the
unjust penalty of false witness. We know that, inevitably, the truth
of the situation will come to light at Gods moment. At His moment we
will be vindicated, not at the moment of our choosing. The truth will
emerge — because Christ Himself has said so. All that is concealed beneath
the putrefaction of sin will one day come to light. We both rejoice
and tremble at this.
That is to say, these words, if we are honest with ourselves, as much
frighten as console us. If we have sinned (and who has not?) and in
our willfulness, our obstinacy, refuse to repent, to bring our sinfulness
in humility to God; if in our humanness we shrink back and attempt to
hide, thinking that we can deceive God, He is warning us that it will
avail us nothing: all will be made known. All will be brought to light.
Light has ever been equated with Truth. And the truth of the matter
is that each us, for all our darkness in sin, yet remains in possession
of light, even if it is reduced to a smoldering wick. Sometimes it simply
needs to be rekindled by another flame, a stronger light.
For this reason, we should never be tempted to think that our little
light does not, will not, or cannot matter; that it makes no difference;
each flame of faith, no matter how low it burns, can be that one more
spark necessary to set another aflame, and is therefore indispensable
to the Church of Christ. Each person within it has a unique beauty in
that light that is totally disproportionate to place and time, for in
all history, from its beginning to its culmination, it is unrepeatable
flicker against a constant darkness, and because it is unrepeatable,
each soul possesses inestimable, inexhaustible value. Purchased, as
it is, through the Blood of Christ on the Cross, it is of such value
that the Son of God Himself laid down His life for it.
From the very beginning, the history of creation and salvation has been
set against darkness, against a void; either a void of matter on the
one hand (Gen.1.2) or a void of sanctity on the other. We are children
of Light ever in contention with darkness. Abraham was told to look
up and number the stars to count the offspring of his act of faith,
and they were, each of them, points of light in an expanse of darkness,
innumerable lights penetrating the darkness. Abraham was not blinded
by a tiny star; he was overwhelmed by constellations of scintilla beyond
calculation, such that the very darkness of night was dusted with light.
A flicker or a raging fire, each soul contributes withal to that constellation
through which the history of salvation is traced by the Finger of God.
Do you still ask, “What difference can I, or do I, make?” Alone it may
seem little, the light of itself small and unable to kindle the very
chaff threatening to extinguish it — but joined to the light, the flame,
the fire, of others, it becomes an inseparable part of that holocaust
of Light we call the Church to which Christ calls all men. He calls
it to a light on a hill. He kindles the merest ember, and the breath
of the Holy Ghost sets it ablaze in a divine wind until, fire upon fire,
it consumes the hearts of all, and even the darkness itself!
An analogy may be helpful in an event that took place in Berlin shortly
after the war. In an enormous stadium before a great multitude of people
— one single priest lit one single match! Virtually imperceptible, except
to those in the immediate vicinity, it flickered against the night.
A pin of light in a sea of darkness ... until all present were asked
to light a single match as well, in a combined, a unified act of hope,
faith and commitment to Christ. Soon the entire stadium became a blaze
of light! No longer was darkness encroaching on the light, but a great
light was now encroaching upon a receding darkness!
The victory of Christ over evil, death, sin and darkness was heralded
by a star, a tiny spark of light in an expanse of darkness. We are,
each of us, called to be heralds of Christ, a constant and unfailing
light; smoldering wick, ember, fire, or furnace, we all are one light
in that conflagration of Love we call the Church, that Pillar of Fire
on our journey through darkness to the unquenchable promise of everlasting
light and life in Christ.
A Poor Clare Colettine Nun