Light illuminates and allows us to see. It is not about itself. Rather, it pushes back the darkness and reveals what is really there, that which is good and that which is bad. In the parable of the lamp, Jesus is reminding us that if we are to be seen as his followers, we are to be a light, his light, in the world, that is, to our families, to our neighbors, and to our places of work. This parable invites us to be that light each time we read it. Are we the lamp that our faith and our Lord have called us to be?
This parable is about evangelization. Which is just a fancy word for sharing the “light” and the hope, the love we have found through our relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s about shedding the light of the Good News onto a world that is so often lost in shadows of ignorance, rebellion, and indifference. It is one thing to know the light and its Source, but it is another thing to love it so much as to live it courageously, openly, and joyfully. We are challenged by this parable to ask ourselves, again and again: Am I a light of faith to the people around me? Do I live my faith openly? Do my actions reveal my love of God and my love of my neighbor to others? Do people around me come to see what I see in Christ?
There are larger, corporate, communal, and societal implications to consider too. When and where there has been a lack of real Christian witness, evil has come to the fore. That weakness of Christian witness allows some of the worst things in society to take hold. An example might be helpful here. The horrors of Hitler’s Third Reich took place in a “Christian” country. Christianity had become so weak, so hidden under the bushel baskets of fear, indifference and silence, that true evil was allowed to be unleashed upon the world. To put it another way, if the true light of Christian witness had been robust and courageous in the masses of Germans who called themselves Christians, could the holocaust have ever been carried out?
Here’s the thing. This world, now, needs to see the light of Christ being lived out openly, joyously, compassionately, and mercifully. There have always been those few among the Body of Christ who made the light of Christ visible to those around them by the way they lived their lives, even in the face of grave dangers. We call them saints. But Jesus has called all of us to be saints. Where, then, is our light? The world is desperate for such light.
Ideologies are not the light. Politicians are not the light. These cannot save the world. Only the light of Christ can do that. We have it, why is it not seen more evidently? It is not just words; it is a way of being in the world. If we truly believe it, why is it so hidden from the world? Why is there still so much darkness? Where is the courage of our convictions? Let us pray for the courage to shed the true light of Christ’s love in those parts of the world that are closest to us, ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors, and our colleagues. That’s where everything begins.