In last week’s column, I spoke about the joyful events around the birth of Christ. This week I want to speak about how Christ is revealed to us as the light of the world. How did Jesus bring light to the world? There are events that occurred in a relatively short period of time that signal the beginning of His public life while revealing His divine origin and nature.
Jesus began His public life when His cousin John the Baptist baptized Him in the Jordan River. It was at this event that for the first time in recorded history, the Trinity is tangibly present together in this world. This is revealed immediately after John baptizes Jesus. Jesus is together with John in the river, and while He is there, a dove descends from above and rests over Him. At the same moment, the voice of the Father could be heard saying, “This is My beloved Son; in whom I am well pleased.” Here, we have the Son in the God-man Jesus, the Holy Spirit represented by the dove and the Father present in the voice, the Trinity clearly together on Earth.
Shortly after the event of His baptism, at the wedding feast of Cana, Jesus performs His first miracle, and again His divine nature is revealed by changing water into wine. Through the request of His mother Mary, Jesus meets human needs. What does Jesus’s holy mother do? She notices the need. Mothers by their nature notice the need of others. Mary noticed first that they were out of wine, and she knew who to go to… Jesus. Mary tells Jesus, and Jesus brings to light and life a miracle for the young couple.
This reminds me of how my mother noticed my needs. She knew when I was hungry, and she knew when I needed a new pair of shoes. What is also familiar to me is the response to my mother, and how I tried to be obedient to her requests.
Mary then tells the helpers a most important message that transcends all time and denominations, “Do whatever He tells you.” These are Mary’s last known words in the Bible and most profound to all of God’s people.
God’s ultimate goal is to transform the earth and its inhabitants into a new creation, the Kingdom of God. Christ’s challenge to us is to “Reform your lives and believe in the Gospel,” through justice, peace, love and light. Jesus brings light to all the dark corners of our lives and our souls. Jesus spent His entire public life bringing light. He brings the light of truth to sinners. He brings the light of healing to the sick, just as He did when He healed the blind man who had been born blind, and after he met Jesus, he could see. Jesus brings the light of hope to those who have lost hope or even in God such as Nicodemus who changed his life completely the day he met Jesus.
Light reveals. Light makes the unknown known. Too much light can blind us; not enough light can keep us from seeing the whole truth. During Jesus’ public life, Jesus used light to reveal slowly and gently the truth of who He was. Jesus revealed to Peter, James and John some of His glory through His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. This event is significant because through it, Jesus revealed just enough light to reveal the truth of His divinity. At the Transfiguration, Jesus allowed just a touch of His heavenly glory to show. Through this event Jesus pre- announces His own Resurrection, the final victory of light over darkness and life over death. This event also pre-shadows Christ’s promise to us of our own resurrection and eternal life.
Jesus is light. He brings light and life always. Towards the end of Jesus’ life, that did not change. As a matter of fact, Jesus’ greatest gift of light comes just a day before His death. At the Last Supper, Jesus testifies “to the end,” His love of humanity by offering His body and blood for the sins of humanity. Through this great act, Jesus brings light to the truth of who He is and light to the truth of the gift He leaves with us, the gift of the Eucharist. Think of the Eucharist as a prism that emanates light. That light is a gift to all who receive Christ. Once you receive that light through the Eucharist, you must share the light of Christ with others.
Together, these mysteries of light reveal to us that Christ is one of us, the son of the Father, the miracle worker, the challenging God, the risen Lord and God broken and shared with the whole of humanity.
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