Friends, today’s Gospel is the parable of the lamp, which, placed on a lampstand, gives light to all. Light obviously isn’t for itself. Rather, we see things by it. It illuminates things upon which it shines.
We are light by which people around us come to see what is worth seeing. By the very quality and integrity of our lives, we shed light, illumining what is beautiful and revealing what is ugly. The clear implication is that without vibrant Christians the world is a much worse place.
Let me illustrate this principle with an example. One of the most painful truths of the last century is that the weakness of Christian witness allows some of the worst elements in society to flourish. Think of the rise of the evil powers that created World War II. Christianity had become so weak, so uncompelling, so attenuated that great evil was allowed to flourish. Yes, indeed there were a handful of powerful Christian resisters, but let’s face it: the overwhelmingly vast majority of Christians either supported Hitler or remained in silence, out of either fear or indifference.