Imagine you come home one evening after the darkness had already enveloped the sky, and as you enter the house, you reach for the lamp beside the front door, but when you flip on the switch, nothing happens. With a quick motion, you reach for the nearest drawer and grab hold of a lightbulb to replace the one in the lamp, but after changing it, there is still no light. With a deep sigh and a breath of frustration, you happen to glance downward and notice that the chord to the lamp is not plugged into the electric socket.
There is no means by which a lamp can light up a dark room without the flow of electricity running through it. And it is not possible for us to become a beacon of light for others without receiving the light of Christ first and experiencing his love flowing through our heart, mind, and soul. We cannot share what we do not have ourselves.
When we read and reflect upon sacred Scripture, we discover the metaphor applied to all believers from John 8:12, “Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” Jesus is affirming, emphasizing how we cannot have the light of life until we accept his light, which can only become possible by growing and deepening our relationship with him. We unite ourselves to Christ, and this is when his holy light burns brightly within us and radiates out towards others, dispelling the darkness.
It is on our spiritual journey that we often find ourselves trying to navigate through our lives on our own without seeking and turning to God to guide us. We become frustrated and flail about not knowing which direction to turn because we are relying on our capabilities alone. When challenges and hardship come our way and we are lost in the wilderness, we will sometimes look for him, but mostly, we simply attempt to independently make our way in the world.
I recall a time when I was in the convent sitting at one of the corporation meetings when a larger discussion began in regards to the future of the community. Hands shot up and ideas were tossed about leading to a conversation about whether the community should merge with another community, split up among other communities, invite other religious sisters to rent a part of the property, or build a smaller monastery for the remaining sisters to live out the rest of their days. It was a lively discussion; a lot of going back and forth but a component was certainly missing in all of it.
I was a postulant and only an observer in the room, but I noticed that not one of the religious sisters brought up God in the midst of their conversation. In all of the dialogue, no one mentioned that the community should bring this dilemma to God in prayer. Perhaps it would have been easier to discern their options if they permitted the Lord to be at the center of their dialogue with one another.
It was like trying to light a candle without a match. How frequently we try to be the light on our own instead of allowing ourselves to become the light through Christ. We have to allow our hearts, minds, and souls to be transformed and become alive in him.
How can we go about our lives and learn to rely on Christ and become as dependent as little children? We need to be able to place our trust and confidence in him just as the Blessed Virgin Mary did at the Annunciation. She allowed herself to become an instrument to bring the light of Christ into the world. Everything about Our Lady, in complete humbleness and humility, pointed to the Savior. She never tried to make herself be the light, but rather in complete obedience to the Father in heaven, she became the light bearer.
The Word Made Flesh will guide us on our spiritual journey through life and show us the way, if we allow him. When we become a recipient of the light, we give glory to God just as Mary proclaimed in her Magnificat, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior” (Luke 1:46-47).
We are called to connect to the light by being in intimate union with God, because without a deep and profound relationship with the Lord, we cannot possess the light and allow ourselves to shine forth as the “light of the world”. We must share our life with him and accept his invitation to allow his light to become brighter and brighter within us. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light for my path” (Ps 119:105). Let us not rely on ourselves because we cannot do it on our own.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven”Matt. 5:16