18 March 2013

Shine for the salvation of the world

5th Week of Lent (M)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA

Jesus makes an astonishing claim, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Not only is he the light of the world, but he is also the source of salvation from those who choose to follow after him. If you think about how the darkness of sin and death obstructs your growth in holiness, you might discover that it is unbelievably difficult to pray, fast, do good works, even to forgive and love in the total darkness of sin. Unless you are capable of generating your own spiritual light, you will fail again and again to progress along the way. Since we are—by our fallen nature—incapable of saving ourselves, we must look to a savior, someone else to bring a light to bear on our path. If Jesus is telling the truth, then he is that someone else. But is he telling the truth? The Pharisees challenge his claim. They demand two witnesses to verify his testimony. Jesus says to them, “I testify on my behalf and so does the Father who sent me.” We are left with a simple choice: we either believe the testimony of these witnesses, or we do not. Do you hope to grow in holiness? If so, follow the light shone by Christ. 

Before Christ came among us, our guiding lights were the Law and the Prophets. These two divinely inspired sources of light showed God's children a way through the muck and mire of disobedience, leading them back to righteousness through an obstacle course of ritual sacrifice, dietary restrictions, and purity codes. Running this course demonstrated their allegiance to the covenant God made with Abraham. Failure to follow the Law or obey the Prophets meant a failure to honor the covenant, a spiritual form of adultery. When Christ came among us, he announced that he had fulfilled the Law and the prophecies; he had taken upon himself all of our failures, all of our flaws, everything that causes us to trip and fall while growing toward holiness. Our purpose is not absolute moral purity or ritual perfection, our purpose is to follow Christ so closely and with such zeal that we become Christ for the world where we are. We're to be transfigured so that the glory of God and the light of Christ shine out from us, and then lead all others out of the darkness that blinds them. You can't accomplish this alone, nor can I. So, we have the communion of saints, the Church; we have the apostolic witness and the Holy Spirit. If you will grow in holiness, do so. . .but do so so that the Christ-light that shines from you shines with the whole Body of Christ for the salvation of the world. 

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1 comment:

  1. The Light which illuminates the darkness - but before we can follow the Light with reckless abandon it seems we must trust in His mercy, and trust that He is and will shape us and change us and sift us into that perfection toward which we are all called. It occurred to me in reading this that it is easier to just follow the rules and laws and Know that salvation is assured . . . but we are called to a personal relationship which transcends the rules and laws - we are called to participate in the Divine Life brought by Jesus, to participate in His Light. Laws and rules are of course necessary, but necessary so as to free us to follow the Light and find the way to participate with/in Him so we too can shine for the world to see, to see Him through us.

    I really liked the first paragraph. Jury's still out on the second, but it caused me to think and that's always a good thing. Thanks!