Be a light to one another

The lights of Christmas have pretty much disappeared by now. But I want to thank all of you who decorated. Whether it was a single candle in a window in an elegant home in Homeland, or a light display worthy of Disney World, such as the house on Gittings Avenue, it all made a difference.

I’ve always loved the lights of Christmas. I remember, as a boy, I would walk from our humble apartment in Mars Estates, next to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, down to my sister Helen’s house in Hawthorne, looking at all the Christmas lights. Today I still drive around to see the lights. I have my mandatory trip to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, as well as a local trip to 34th Street in Hampden. Walking up and down the streets of Hampden, I notice the smiles on people’s faces as they look at all the displays.

Christmas is about light. Yes, it is about a star that led the Magi to Christ. But it is about something more profound. It is about the light of God that has entered the darkness of the world, and the darkness did not overwhelm it!

Jesus told us that his followers would be the light of the world. Light is about who you and I are.

Scientists tell us that we are made of light. Light, vibrating at different frequencies, materializes in human flesh and blood. I’ve always loved that description. You and I are made of the stuff of light, made of the stuff of God.

There never seems to be a lack of darkness in its various forms – war, terror, economic hardships, job loss, loss of loved ones, and on and on. The darkness is real. But you and I are made of the stuff of light, so we don’t give in to the darkness. A completely dark room is transformed by the light of a single lamp. Our dark world is transformed by the light of a single believer. A kind word, a helping hand, a listening ear, a voice of encouragement all help to scatter the darkness.

Interestingly, in the famous judgment scene in Matthew’s Gospel, we are judged on humble things: “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” Most of us won’t be able to donate a hospital wing, or endow a university, or cure cancer. But we can all be kind and thoughtful, and this is what matters to God. When we are light to each other, we are God to each other! God came in human flesh in order to let us know that he always wants to come in flesh and blood.

Light is our origin. Light is how we are called to live. Light ultimately is our destiny in heaven. Allow me to quote the last two stanzas of the Christmas carol “As With Gladness Men of Old”:

“Holy Jesus, every day, keep us in the narrow way;

“And when earthly things are past,

“Bring our ransomed souls at last

“Where they need no star to guide,

“Where no clouds thy glory hide.

“In the heavenly country bright

“Need they no created light;

“Thou, its light, its joy, its crown

“Thou its sun which goes not down;

“There forever may we sing

“Alleluias to our king.”

We humans travel from light into light. In the brief span that we call our lives, we try to be light to each other. Then, at the moment of death, “we go to the light,” and we return to what we are!

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.