Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
|Christ the Light|
Advent began with a reminder by St. Paul: “The night is far spent, the day draws near.” Today, it ends with the song of Zechariah: “In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” The words of Zechariah tell us of the impending coming of the day. Yes, we find ourselves still in the middle of the dark because the Kingdom of God has not yet fully manifested itself and the darkness and loneliness of the world still prevail, injustices still occur, hunger still is widespread. However, the day draws near. The dawn from on high breaks upon us. The Light has come.
The breaking of dawn invites us to step into the light. Christ invites us to follow him who is the Light of the world. No one who follows me will walk in darkness. How to we bring ourselves to step into the light. First, it begins by casting away deeds of darkness. It means conversion. It means abandoning our works of selfishness, pride and hatred in order to embrace the love of the Lord. Living in the light means loving God and our neighbors. Pope Francis wrote: “Loving others is a spiritual force drawing us to union with God; indeed, one who does not love others ‘walks in the darkness’ (1 Jn 2:11), ‘remains in death’ (1 Jn 3:14) and ‘does not know God (1 Jn 4:8). Benedict XVI has said that ‘closing our eyes to our neighbour also blinds us to God’, and that love is, in the end, the only light which ‘can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. When we live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others and seeking their welfare, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord’s greatest and most beautiful gifts. Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God. Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God. If we want to advance in the spiritual life, then, we must constantly be missionaries. The work of evangelization enriches the mind and the heart; it opens up spiritual horizons; it makes us more and more sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit, and it takes us beyond our limited spiritual constructs. A committed missionary knows the joy of being a spring which spills over and refreshes others. Only the person who feels happiness in seeking the good of others, in desiring their happiness, can be a missionary. This openness of the heart is a source of joy, since ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35). We do not live better when we flee, hide, refuse to share, stop giving and lock ourselves up in own comforts. Such a life is nothing less than slow suicide. [Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 272.]
One who follows Jesus embraces the light. Remember that we are children of light and of the day. This is a brand that baptism has sealed us with. “My mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of my life or a badge I can take off; it is not an ‘extra’ or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing. All around us we begin to see nurses with soul, teachers with soul, politicians with soul, people who have chosen deep down to be with others and for others. But once we separate our work from our private lives, everything turns grey and we will always be seeking recognition or asserting our needs. We stop being a people.” [EG, 273.]
Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.