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Sunday, March 30, 2014

How does Light work?

Light is a highly important image in John's Gospel, and for good reason. Remember the first words of God in the entire Bible: “Fiat lux!” Let there be light! Or in the original Hebrew, “yeh-HI Ohr!” אוֹר יְהִי (Online Hebrew Bible AudioIt is very meaningful, then, that Light is the beginning of a new creation that the Father is carrying out in Christ. In fact, in his opening prologue to introduce the Gospel, John intentionally uses the same first words: in the beginning! And continues by describing that The Word made flesh who was in the beginning with God is in fact life itself, and also the light of the human race. This story, then, is much more than a miracle: it is an account of the meaning of life, of the universe: light leads to life, which leads to God.

The Gospel and 2nd reading seem to suggest that light transforms an object. St. Paul says, “everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.” Whatever is visible is light. Jesus, likewise, begins his teaching about Himself as the Light of the World today by saying the man's blindness had this cause: “so that the works of God might be made visible through Him.” In a sense, so that he could shine forth God's glory. So, instead of what we understand today, the wise at the time of Christ believes light turns objects into light itself: just as iron placed in a fire will take on the glow and heat of the fire. The light, like the fire, is has a power to change the thing it touches.

Today we see a similar transformation in the blind man. Using lots of sacramental imagery in his healing, the blind man becomes something new. As we see in the washing an image of baptism, we can see in the clay used on his eyes a symbol of a new creation (remember that Adam was made from the clay of the earth). The light of the world, Jesus Christ, has made this man to be a beacon of light himself: what Pope Francis calls a "missionary disciple." If we are to become disciples of the Light of the World, then we must, as Paul urges, "take no part in the fruitless works of darkness, but rather expose them" to the Light we bear: the truth of the Gospel. The man born blind does this today: "Why are you asking me again? Do you want to be his disciples, too?!”

Young David was anointed king, a humble man who shames the proud (especially when he conquers Goliath) just like today's blind man who "born totally in sin" puts the Pharisees in their place before they throw him out. God raises up the lowly who are willing to be transformed by His Light, like Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Peter and Matthew, Paul and even little Pius X (Giuseppe Sarto, who's will said simply: “I was born poor; I have lived poor; I wish to die poor.”). God can do amazing things, as he did with these saints, if we “have faith in the Son of Man,” as Jesus says to the man today.

Perhaps we don't have that faith yet? Perhaps we are still blind in one way or another. There are many ways for us to be blind. First, we can be blind to the spiritual: believing only in what we see. Or, we can be blind to our own weaknesses and failures: thinking or at least pretending we are already perfect and not in need of a transforming re-creation. We can be blind to the ways others are hurting: only trusting in ourselves and our own problems. We can be blind to the power of Christ to heal and renew us: not having hope that we can ever get out of the mess we find ourselves in. Whatever blindness you are struggling with (and there's a blindness for everyone), ask Our Eucharistic Lord Jesus, the one and only Light of the World who can make us anew, to open your eyes and send you out as a messenger of His power and love, as a missionary disciple.

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