By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
“You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14). I close my eyes and picture Jesus addressing these words to me today and ask, “What does this mean?” The answer I hear in my heart: “It means it is not about you.” Light does not shine for its own sake, but for others. “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:16). …”that they may see…” How can this be? I can’t make anyone else see; I can’t even make myself see. Ah… it’s not about me.
I think this is the source of so many of our problems, of so much frustration…our refusal to give in to this one lesson. So, in what may seem like a contradiction, I must focus on my part, yet remain aware that everything I do is about others. Even my most intimate encounter with God is not about me…it is about God. And love of God always leads us to love of others. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” (Mt 22:37-10).
Our world is in darkness. People are searching for hope, for light, for truth. Yet, “they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. ...But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear” (Mt 13:13,16). I often wonder at the great gift of my faith, at the gift of having been born in a Catholic family and having been baptized as an infant. I didn’t do anything to deserve it; I didn’t do anything to earn it, but I must do everything to keep it.
When a child is being baptized, a candle is lit from the Easter candle, and the celebrant says: “Receive the light of Christ. Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly, so that your children, enlightened by Christ, may walk always as children of the light and, persevering in the faith, may run to meet the Lord when he comes with all the Saints in the heavenly court.” So now, as an adult, whether my light was kept burning brightly, or was almost quenched, it is my responsibility to keep the flame of faith alive in my heart. "Having received in Baptism the Word, "the true light that enlightens every man," the person baptized has been "enlightened," he becomes a "son of light," indeed, he becomes "light" himself. "(CCC 1216).
But what about those days when my light is so dim it barely shines? What about when I feel I should just hide it and save it because it is barely enough for me? I must look out and remember…it’s not about me. The image that comes to mind is the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree. They are not all on at the same time; they take turns. When the lights are alternating, it looks like a beautiful dance. We do not see the darkness, just the light. But if you take one out, the whole section goes dark. Some days my light will shine before others, some days the light of others will shine before me. But if we keep the light of faith burning for each other, Christ’s light will shine for all to see.