Light And Joy
“He also said to them, 'Would you bring in a lamp to put it under a tub or under the bed? Surely you will put it on the lamp-stand?” (Mark 4:2)
On New Year’s Eve I was feeling more than a little cynical regarding any impending personal epiphany, and my many past resolutions, which had faded out as whimpers, left me in no mood to begin another. But the Holy Spirit was not giving up on me so easily -even in the presence of my obstinacy. That morning’s daily reflection suggested listening for a “Word from God” as a guide for the new year. I had considered the idea, and was actually in the very act of dismissing it, when three Words abruptly overrode my thoughts: “Light and Joy”. God’s Word had broken through my crusty heart.
Chastened, like a crotchety old man by God’s unrelenting Mercy, I repented of my negativity, and received his Word as personally tailored to guide me through this year. I did not experience this as an epiphany moment, yet I knew with certainty those simple Words were calling me toward one. They had no profound meaning, yet I was sure they would.
Every day they have been percolating into my consciousness, as if rain preparing the earth. They were seeds of Hope yet expressed, but still, taking root. Today, in reading Mark’s Gospel about the parable of the lamp, that personal Word broke through the soil of my soul. That pregnant Word which had remained formless, now, by the Breath of the Spirit, is beginning to show Itself to me.
It began with my pondering of the ridiculousness of Jesus’ question –Why would anyone bring in a lamp just to hide it under something? What if he posed this question because its ridiculous scenario is a real problem that needs to be confronted? Surely I would not be so foolish? Could he be illustrating such a self-defeating action in order to point to something amiss in my life? What Truth is his silly question speaking?
The parable of the lamp fundamentally addresses God’s purpose for our life; as well as the consequence of living inside of, or, outside of that purpose. A lamp is created to emit light. Its purpose is to bring light to what is hidden in darkness. We too, are created as vessels of Light. To live our life outside of this purpose is as foolish as placing a lamp under a basket.
St. Matthew speaks to this point: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden.”(5:14) We have been created to be a Light to the world. If we live our lives outside of our Divine Purpose, then Darkness remains around us. If we live according to his purpose, then Darkness is expelled -for, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”(1John 1:5)
By itself, a lamp cannot produce light. It merely holds the flame -burning the oil which was placed within it and ignited. So too, we are not the source of the Light of Christ which we bear. We are merely holders of the flame of God’s Love which lives within us. And just as there is a vast difference between an ember and a roaring fire, so are there differences in the intensities of Light emanating from our lives. The brightness of our Light is according to the Fire of Love in our heart for God. And the Fire of Love in our heart correlates to the Faith, Hope and Love that is lived out in our life –to the degree we are living according to our Divine Purpose.
The more alive we are in Faith, Hope and Love, the more Darkness is expelled around us. And, it is a spiritual law that a life in Christ bears the fruit of Peace and Joy. This is what my Personal Word “Light and Joy” is speaking to me: if there is Light in my life, there is Joy; if there is Joy in my life, there is Light. The two cannot exist apart.Joy then, is a dependable indicator of my spiritual health. Not the giddy feel good joy of fickle happiness, but the deep joy of Peace, of knowing I am cupped in the Hand of God. If I am lacking in Joy, I need only to increase the Light in my life –to renew the exercise of Faith, Hope and Love. If I offer these to the world, then there will be the Light of Christ, and its Fruit will be Joy.