“God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn. 1:5).
The last day of 2018 in Philadelphia was a damp, chilly, and dreary day. Rain came down from the clouds most of the day and continued into the night. As the countdown to the new year approached, I wondered how the fireworks would look in the foggy, cloudy skies and if Penn’s Landing will still be full of families, couples, and friends. As for me, I was indoors watching a movie with a friend. I thought to myself “what a gloomy way to bring in the new year!” However, when morning came, I was pleasantly surprised. The sun was up and the skies were clear. “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death…” (Lk. 1:79).
New Year’s Day turned out to be a sunny, pleasant day and even brought along with it a gentle breeze. How appropriate it was that it was the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God – a sunny, pleasant day to honor a pleasant and humble woman, whose humble obedience bore the Salvation of the world, the Consolation of Israel, the Light of the World, and “the dawn from on high.” This “dawn from on high” is the “daybreak,” the “Branch,” the Christ, Jesus, the Messiah, the Light of the World. On New Year’s Eve, the world was seemingly in darkness, rainy and wet, but when morning came, the Light came and shone “on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,” so that we may no longer dwell in that darkness but rather walk in the Light of Christ. Thus, we are called to be children of the Light, for we “were once in darkness, but now [we] are light in the Lord” (Eph.5:8).
Our Church has seen some dark, difficult days this past year, but the light shone forth and the filth and perversion were brought into the light, and hopefully in this new year the Light will continue to purify and sanctify the Church and lead it to where the Lord intends for it to be. “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God” (Jn. 3:20-21). We have followed the Truth and have stepped into the Light, and hopefully we will be able to allow that Truth and Light to continue to guide and work within us and lead us to do works that are clearly seen as done in God. We must continue to pray that these trials and tribulations are like gold that is tested in fire – where the fire removes the impurities that cover the trueness of the gold and likewise the Light will remove all that is not of God in us and restore us and the Church to the state where God created and intended for us to be – to be of the Light.
For me, the Light imagery has always been a very important part of my faith life. When I sit in the chapel or in a church in the evenings or nighttime or even on dark, rainy days I look at the stained-glass windows, I try to make out the intricacies and details of the masterpiece but find myself unable to. The stained-glass windows under these conditions do not seem as pretty as they really are. Then when I go back to the chapel in the morning or during the daytime I can see clearly the fine details of the stained glass windows, and it is the Light that allowed me to do so. When the light shines through the stained-glass windows we are able to see the beauty of the windows, and the uniqueness of them all. Each stained-glass window tells us a little story, a little part of the greatest love story ever told – the story of God’s love for us. Similarly, we are all like stained-glass windows, where the Divine Artist created us each individually, uniquely, and with love. There are many details and unique qualities of our lives and being that we sometimes forget or fail to see because we have decided to live in the darkness and not allow the light to shine through us. But, if we do allow the Light to enter, shine through, and settle inside of us, we and others will be able to see the beauty, goodness, and trueness that we inherently possess and that with and out of which God created us. Like each stained-glass window, we too have a story – our strengths and weaknesses, our joys and sorrows, mistakes made and lessons learned, roads taken and paths avoided, stops made and destinations arrived. Just as every part of the window is necessary for the story to be told we too must let every part of our story be shined on by the light. God did not just make parts of us but rather the entirety of us. Let us allow God to touch each part of us, those we are proud of and those we are ashamed of, and by doing so give God permission to make our story His story, the story of His great love for us. Just like each stained-glass window, each person is unique, each person is a unique child of God, and when we can finally allow the Light to shine through us – every part of us –, we can truly claim that identity, and be children of the Light.
On New Year’s Eve we were still in the darkness, but when the first day of the New Year came, the sun shone brightly and broke through the clouds of darkness. As the new year begins and continues may we strive to live as Children of the Light by allowing the Light to enter into us and shine through us so that we may become for ourselves and for one another living stained-glass windows that show what is true, good, and beautiful, and thus point us towards and lead us ever nearer to God. Finally, let us turn to and imitate Our Mother Mary who bore the Light of the World and allowed that Light to shine through her so that we may always live in the Light for “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn. 1:5).