Lawyers for the light
I remember during my novitiate year some 57 years ago, in the countryside of Quebec, Canada going on an excursion on skis one winter day with the other novices. It got dark very quickly but on the way back we took a wrong turn and very soon we were lost.
You can imagine our distress in the darkness and our anxiety on not being able to find our way home. All we wanted to see was a light. A light meant a house where the people could tell us how to get home.
Finally as we came over the brow of a hill we saw one light, that of a single house. We hustled down to that house and the family, after giving us a hot drink, put us in their truck and drove us home.
At home a lot of the conversation centred on that light. In a very true sense that light was the difference between a night out in the freezing cold, possibly illness and death, and the safety of home.
The Gospel passage given to us for this reflection on the third Sunday of Advent is taken in part from the prologue of St John where it is said “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.”
John is, as it were, the lawyer giving powerful testimony of the absolute need which we have of the ‘Light’ if we are to be saved. John understood however that he was not the light himself. He was the lawyer for the light.
The world in which we live has entered a period of increasing darkness. Climate change which can ruin the world is a growing danger—ecological disasters, hurricanes and earthquakes leave thousands without basic necessities; religious fanaticism threatens the stability of nations; the ever-increasing refugee crisis, and wars in Afghanistan and Syria, the AIDS pandemic, all point to a world in crisis. In the midst of this darkness we ask ourselves: who or what is the solution?
Throughout the years as the symptoms of this impending implosion grew clearer many solutions have been tried, many ‘isms’ have come and gone but none addressed the root cause of the problems affecting our planet: the selfishness and greed of human beings.
Today the Gospel reminds us once again that two thousand years ago, a man came to testify to the light, which even now has the power to lead the world out of the darkness in which it finds itself, a darkness which brings with it death and suffering to so many.
Today it is you and I, disciples of Jesus, who must be the new John the Baptists testifying to the Light. We have to be the present-day lawyers giving powerful testimony by our very lives to the absolute need which we have of the light if we are to be saved, always understanding however that we ourselves are not the light, only lawyers for the light.
That Light, which is so necessary, is of course Jesus Christ and the values which He proclaimed by His life and teaching. Pope St John Paul II reminded us of this when he urged all believers “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows ‘what is in man’. He alone knows it”.
Throughout the years, the world has tried the values proclaimed by a myriad of ‘isms’. All have failed to bring about the utopia for which the world longs. We must embrace the “baptism of repentance” proclaimed by John if we are to overcome the selfishness and greed which is the cause of the stifling darkness which pervades our world.
Let us embrace the baptism of repentance first of all in our personal lives. Let us proclaim it and live it in our families. Let us teach it in our schools. If we do, the Light will begin to shine again for us, leading us through the darkness safely home.
If we do not create a tsunami carrying the values of Jesus Christ into every heart and nook and cranny of our land, we will be doomed to live in the darkness which will ultimately destroy us.
All powerful and ever-loving God, our world lives in darkness brought about by our selfishness and greed. Our world needs the Light but the Light will not be accepted unless we give testimony to the Light. Help us your disciples to be the new John the Baptists giving testimony to the Light by our very lives so that the world might believe. We ask this through the intercession of Mary our Mother and the Light himself, Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
The Gospel reflections for December are by Archbishop Joseph Harris.