Jesus taught in a visual way, using images and scenarios to paint a picture of the Kingdom of heaven. In this Sunday’s Gospel, he uses a variety of images to show us how to use the light of God.
This light is given to us as a free gift. It is never ours alone, but a reference back to God. He says: ‘….your light must shine in the sight of all, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’ The light that we portray should not make those around us glorify ‘us’. No, by shining this light to all around us, we are doing the work of God. We are glorifying him, not ourselves.
He says: ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden.’ If we are that city, or part of it, perhaps we might sometimes stop to consider the amazing situation God has put us in, and the responsibility he has given us. Just as light cannot be hidden in the shadows, nor can we hide the light of God in any of the darkness of humanity. It is our responsibility to shine out from our human perspective as a beacon of God’s love.
Being God’s beacon of light is immersive. We do it just like a lighthouse does throughout the night: constantly, without stopping. When we encounter oppression or danger or hatred or difficulty of any kind, we don’t stop shining, but we shine all the more. And, just like a lighthouse makes the best use of its light during a storm, so it is for us: during those difficult times, our light has the greater effect.
History always presents us with examples of Christ’s light shining from people. The saints are a good example. But there is no age in greater need of this light than ours. This is the storm in which our light can shine. We are living in a world in which hatred and intolerance of others is beginning to become normalised. And within all of this, we are being challenged by Christ to be that city on a hill. How, in our life, are we going to shine? What good deeds shall we do? beyond silent prayer in the privacy of your own home or with like-minded friends in Church, how are we going to be true and palpable witnesses to the light of God in this world of increasing hatred?
We humans are born communicators. and we can easily forget that we have the power through the words we use to quite literally shape the lives of others. In our words, in what we say and what we choose to not say, in our actions, may we shine the light of love and peace into to the dark world we live in. May we be that city on a hill, giving light and hope to those who are in need.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by all.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house.
In the same way your light must shine in the sight of all, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’
The Gospel of the Lord