By Maria Covarrubias
The Gospel of John begins by narrating, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1, 6-9).
Light is an important element in human life. When there is light we are able to see clearly, walk with confidence, experience and appreciate creation and feel secured. Light is a life-giving force, a universal source of meaning and a wellspring of beauty.
This imagery of light is well expressed in the Christmas season by most of the symbols and decorations used, but most importantly by the “Birth of Jesus.” John exclaims: “The true light which enlightens everyone has come into the world.” (John 1, 9). Jesus is the life-giving force giving meaning to our lives in every place and circumstance. The Incarnation and the birth of Jesus were among the most important signs of God’s revelation of his love and mercy to us, for us, and in us.
Recently, while I was watching television, a short commercial portraying the public faces of the channel appeared; all dressed in white singing “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” and then together invited the audience to let their light shine. I thought, how appropriate for this beautiful Christmas season to be reminded that just as John the Baptist came to announce, witness and testify to the light, we are also called to be a light to those around us and into any circumstance. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”” (John 8:12). What a beautiful and reassuring promise of hope! How are we doing in truly believing and living this? Is our light shining? How is our heart at this moment? Are we in need of pausing to experience God’s light and embrace? God is always there reaching out to us, enlightening our lives, wanting to love, heal, restore and save us.
Light is also an important symbol of our Catholic faith. It represents Christ coming into the world. Christ’s light is about encounter, accompaniment, mercy, hope and redemption. “The Lord is my light and my salvation!” exclaims Psalm 27. Light represents those who follow Jesus, too. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5, 14-16). By their deeds the disciples are to influence the world for good.
How is God calling us to glorify him in this New Year? How can we become more intentional in reaching out to those who are lonely, suffering, and those who might need light and hope?
Be Light in the World!
Maria Covarrubias is director of Catechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino