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Christ Will Give You Light (Ephesians 5:8-14)

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Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.

Christ is the light that shines on every man that is born.  Yet by virtue of baptism, all Christians too have become “light of the world”  a “city built on a  hill” that serves as a beacon for wayfarers lost in the darkened highways of human history.  To live as children of the light, is to live as Christ lived, obedient to the Father, blameless in deed and word.

Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret;

The light of faith should help us see things in a way that is ad conspectu Dei — as God sees them.  Discernment is an integral element in the life of the Christian.  “To discern” is to “judge how the Lord is calling me in every moment of my existence.”  St. Paul puts it more clearly:  “learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”  But this is not possible unless one has acquired a certain kind of sensitivity to what the Lord wants.  “Discernment” is not something that one learns by reflex.  The heart and mind must somehow be trained to recoil to what is not pleasing to the Lord and to embrace what is pleasing to Him.

but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light

Why should something be exposed to the light, unless its “value” is in some way hidden from a “cursory glance”?   The Father of Darkness, the Devil, makes his wiles appear harmless and even good.  Wasn’t Adam and Eve fooled by his proposal about the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?  Didn’t he present it to them as something that is good?  “To expose something to the light” is to judge it from the criterion of the Gospel.  “Family planning” looks good, especially when proposed by a governmental agency and by public servants.  Seen from a different point of view, however, it may just be another ploy to exterminate the population of society’s undesirables.

Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

In the rite of baptism of infants, there is a point when after the baptism proper, a candle is lighted from the Paschal candle.  From this one candle, all the other candles are lit.  It is the same rite that is performed during the Easter Vigil, where the faithful light their candles from the candle that symbolizes Christ, light of the world.  The lighting of candles in the baptismal rite is accompanied by words that express the hope and admonition that the newly baptized should be so trained in the faith that one day too, they can light up the faith of others.  The newly baptized will be living his formative years in a family that should be for him “a city built on a hill” — it is through them that he will be experiencing the light that comes from Christ.  It is thus that through this basic experience of living “in the light” that one is able later on to learn what is good and perfect in the eyes of the Lord.

Update: February 22, 2005

The author of the following article takes  time in explaining the light-darkness metaphor; and he explains the passage in terms of a conscious stance for the values that Christ espouses:  compassion, justice, integrity.

To walk in the light is not to be naive. It is not about being happy. It is about owning a commitment to justice and embracing a stance of compassion for all human beings. We are still very good at hiding injustices or hiding ourselves from them to our shame. They extend from sexual abuse and exploitation to downright poverty and victimisation of the weak and disempowered. Our author mixes the images when he speaks of the fruit of ;light, but there is no mistaking what he means. 5:9 makes this clear. Light is goodness and justice and truth. It is not about knowledge or spiritual elevation or mystical ascent, as valuable as these may be.

The light is so connected to Christ that it cannot help but be about compassion and care and concern for human beings. Ultimately it is about the light and life of God which generously confronts us with the possibilities of love and goodness and confronts and exposes our seduction to greed and abuse. Baptism is a very big agenda. It means living with the courage to say no to abuse and exploitation and to say yes to love. Such light and life is the gift held out to us in grace. More here

The invitation to live in the light flows from the Christian’s commitment to be “light of the world.” He becomes “light” insofar as he reflects the light that is Christ for all the world to see. Where does he get “The light is so connected to Christ that it cannot help but be about compassion and care and concern for human beings”? “To live in the light” is, yes, to live out our baptism. But the whole argument is about learning what is true and good vis-a-vis what is apparently good and apparently true. And to learn that is first to live as the Lord wants us to live. By living rightly, we expose what is sinful and somehow gain a sensitivity for what is sinful. The practise of one’s faith makes for orthodoxy; the true gospel understood and accepted leads to orthopraxis.

Originally posted 2005-02-21 06:08:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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