Jesus said to his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand” (Mk 4:21)? The obvious answer is no. A lamp is brought in to illuminate a room so one can read, find something misplaced, and it can even provide some warmth if needed. It would be absurd to do the things with a lamp that Jesus presented in today’s Gospel.
We are like lamps in that we are invited to shine the light of Christ to dispel the darkness of our fallen nature and world. This is the path of a disciple. Yet, many of us do not allow the light of Jesus to shine through us. Here are a few reasons why this may be so.
To draw the analogy of the lamp into our modern electric lamp instead of an oil lamp of Jesus’ day, one reason a lamp does not work is that it is not plugged into its source. Are we plugged into Jesus? Are we spending time in prayer, worship, study, building relationships, and serving God and one another?
Another reason may be that the light bulb is not screwed in all the way or the bulb has gone out. We may be plugged into the source of Jesus, but we are just going through the motions. We show up for Mass or church physically but are not engaged in any meaningful way. We spend time in prayer but we are just saying words or going through the motions without listening to God or willing to allow him to challenge us to go deeper. We have a nice pile of spiritual reading, apps, and DVDs, but the books are only gathering dust, and the apps and DVDs were not opened since they were first accessed or purchased.
Another reason a lamp may not work is that it has been damaged. Many of us may be broken or wounded. It is hard to risk sharing the light when our trust has been manipulated, misused, and/or abused. We need not despair or lose hope. Jesus meets us in our pain, our injury: emotional, psychological, physical, and/or spiritual, and offers his healing and restorative power so we too can shine his light again.
We are called and empowered by Jesus to shine his light. If we haven’t been doing so because of our woundedness, may we be open to his healing. If we aren’t plugged in to the life and source of our being, let us ask for God’s grace to be more disciplined and dedicate ourselves to spending more quality time engaged in prayer, worship, study, and fellowship. If we feel like we are in a rut, we are just going through the motions, and/or our spiritual and relational life is dry: We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). A kind act, a listening ear, or a smile is the simplest way to begin to allow the light of Jesus to shine through us to others. We just need to begin!
Photo: For me, the simplest way to share the light of Jesus is to offer a smile.