Light Switch Wk 3: Receiving the Light
Sunday 6th Week in Ordinary Time: Light Switch Wk 3: Receiving the Light
This is the third week of our message series called Light Switch. We have been talking about how we can be a light switch for others, turning the light of Christ on for them, and teaching them how to do that for others. In that way we share the light of Jesus Christ, and thus share Jesus with the world.
Two weeks ago we spoke of kingdom living. We said “God’s blessings. his beatitudes, come to you when you focus on seeking first the kingdom of heaven. This is called kingdom living. Through kingdom living you will be a light switch and switch on the light of Christ for others because God’s blessing will flow through you into others as you are a light for them, bringing them warmth and peace.
We pointed out that Small groups are a great place to experience this kingdom living and practice it.
Last week bishop spoke with us via video about us being the light of the world.
He said: by participating in the sacraments and various ministries in your parish (Like small groups), we are shining the light of Christ on others.
He also said, our annual Catholic Sharing Appeal allows our diocese to evangelize and serve in many ways, thus being the light of the world for the Florida panhandle. Through your CSA contributions, we are able to build up our local church and pass on the Gospel from generation to generation.
This week we are exploring how living the way Jesus explains in the Gospel today first involves receiving the light. In particular Jesus’ point is that we have to receive the light of the law of God’s commandments and then take those commandments a step or two further. Now to many of our sensitive ears the idea of law and light may sound contrary because light sounds so expansive and law sounds restrictive.
How are the Lord’s commands light for our lives?
Psalm 19 tells us “The command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes” or “The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
So our eyes, that is our minds, hearts, and souls are enlightened when we receive the commandments and seek to understand what they are all about.
We have a gospel reading today that is both challenging and life-giving. This gospel reading immediately follows last week’s gospel reading, when the Lord said that we are to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world.
We aren’t light to the world if we say, “Well, I don’t murder people, I don’t commit adultery, I don’t perjure myself.” Most people on earth do not murder, commit adultery, or commit perjury. The Lord is teaching us here that being salt and light is deeper than that. Jesus says, “You’ve heard it said, ‘you shall not commit murder.’ What I say is, avoid senseless anger, abusive words, contempt for others.”
We can destroy people in more subtle ways than murder. We can destroy people through hatred, defamation, slander.
We can destroy a person’s good name by the wounding insult, by trivializing their self-worth, by dropping suggestive and malicious hints about their character. We may not stab people in the heart, but we can surely stab them in the back.
We are “light” when we respect human dignity, when we don’t engage in the personal insult and ridicule that pervade so much of our society today. Do you know someone who respects people even though he/she disagrees with them? That person is the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Jesus says, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ What I say is, avoid the infidelity of the heart,” i.e., the fantasizing, the toying with temptation through magazines or on the internet.
Avoid the disengagement from the life of the family that can dry up family life and separate people even though they all live in the same house. Legally, they are married; emotionally, they are divorced.
We are light when we nourish and commit ourselves to family life, not family life in general but to our family’s life. Do you know someone who is deeply committed to his/her family? In a culture where family life is so easily neglected, they are the light of the world.
Jesus says, “You have heard it said, ‘Do not bear false witness, that is, do not commit perjury.’ What I say is, avoid the need to swear an oath.” The Lord says that our word should be clear and dependable, in and out of court, instead of loaded with loopholes, half-truths, mental reservations, always crossing our fingers.
In a world where human conversation becomes a game so that even though we know what people are saying, we are not sure what they mean, Jesus is calling us to be people of the truth, whose yes is yes, whose no is no. Do you know someone whose word is dependable and reliable? That person is the light of the world.
Jesus is teaching us to look within because attitudes precede actions.
The Lord is saying that the real measure of violence in our society is not found in the crime statistics but in all the ways we put people down, despise others, hold grudges so that the taking of life becomes just the next step in a world already steeped in hate. The measure of the breakdown of family life doesn’t come from the number of divorces but from the lack of serious commitment and responsibility to our family relationships.
The degree of untruth in our society is not measured by the number of perjuries but by all the lies and evasions and deceptions and half-truths that we see in so many parts of our society.
In such a world, to be light is to be people who respect others, to be people of fidelity to marriage vows and family life, and to be people of truth.
What can we draw from these challenging words of Christ? There is a tendency today to say that we are products of our environment because our souls are like velcro, picking up what is out there.
You have heard it said: “Everybody does it.” But we don’t have to be like everyone else. We do have a choice.
There is the old comedy line when a man goes to the doctor and says, “I broke my arm in several places.” The doctor replies, “Then stop going to those places.”
The Lord is also teaching us that our Christian identity is defined not only by what we don’t do — murder, adultery, false witness — but by what we do. We always have the chance, once more, to renew our life, to examine the choices we are making, to look at the fidelities that are shaping our life. Do they come from the Gospel or the media?
Each Sunday is a call to remodel our lives into places of light.
What about outside of Sundays? We can help you with that too. Join a small group this Lent. As each Sunday is a call to remodel our lives into places of light, small groups are places you will find others trying to live in the light which will encourage you to also live that way.
You need support. Me too, we all need support to live the light of the gospel the way Jesus is calling us to do so. Our Lent small groups will help you enter into Lent with Christ. If you enter into Lent with Christ, your heart will see more clearly, love more strongly, and serve more passionately. Jesus will be etched into the crevasses of your being.
Our small groups kick off on February 19th. You can sign up by going to www.saintmary.life/restore
Receive the light, and be the light.
Have you signed up yet?