Imagine taking a walk at night, and the neighborhood you are walking through at one point is quite dark. Remember the old joke about the man looking around a lamp post and someone asks him why he is doing that, and he replies that he lost something several blocks down from there. The natural questions comes as to why he is looking for his lost object there if his lost object is several blocks away, and the answer is that where he is looking has better light! Remember that one?
Well, the neighborhood you are walking through in my imaginary example is just that dark. It is so dark that you are a tad apprehensive. But just like in the joke, you notice a lamp post. As you walk closer to it, you find that you can see more. You can see the sidewalk that you are walking on better, in turn giving you a better sense of the direction of your walk. But beside that you also notice the cracks in the sidewalk. You also notice the bugs. Whatever can be noticed-is.
Now, in the Old Testament God says that Isaiah would be the light to the nations. Of course, over the centuries he is supplanted big time by the Messiah Himself. Isaiah will have no problem with that. He will step aside willingly for the real Light of the World-Jesus Christ.
Nonetheless, both Isaiah and Jesus Christ as lights of the world have some similarity. Yes, both are lights, with Jesus being the most brilliant light. And as lights, as we approach them we will see ever increasingly more things. We will see more of who they are; we will also see more of who we are too. We will see the Graces in our lives, and we will see our sinfulness.
People often come to me in confession feeling bad about how many sins they just got through confessing. Having THAT many sins, they think, they must be really bad. Good reason to feel guilty, right? Well, typically these days I will introduce the thought that they must really love God!
Why will I say this? Because God is the light, and the closer you get to the light the more you will see. If you are confessing much, I have to conclude that you are quite close to God and you Are now noticing all the ways you need to improve yourself! But here I will also throw in the notion to not just look at your sins, because there is more to see. There has to be more to see!
How would my walk be if I only look at bugs and cracks in the sidewalk? If I don’t also look at where I am going I may walk into something, or perhaps take a wrong turn. Likewise, if I only see my sins, I may miss all the goodness within me. I may miss how many talents I have, giftedness that I can and should share with others. I could end up wallowing in guilt and miss the opportunities to give the best of who I am.
When you see it all, as you approach the teachings of Christ (LIGHT!), you will invariably notice the beauty of the world-a true gift! -along with what needs to be corrected there too. Getting closer to God allows that type of visibility to you, that kind of awareness. Your heart will expand because you are also growing in confidence. Sure! There is no longer fear in you because you are noticing so much more. God’s Love. God’s Mercy. Yes, you will see and experience this too. At this point, congratulations! You are the light of the world. This is what God wanted of Isaiah. This is Jesus and why the Church often wanted us to imitate Him and be another Christ in the world.
We see more. And we are confident. Fear is diminished, and perhaps gone. Love only remains.
Peace, Fr. Walter