The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 5:14-19
The Lord said to His disciples “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven.”
Our Lord in His divine love and compassion has desired to share everything that is His with those who are nearest and dearest to Him within the realms of creation, that is with humanity. How could it be otherwise? How can we say that we believe in a God of love if that love is conditional or limited? Such a love is not worthy of the name of God. Such a God who loves conditionally and with limits is seen in some of the other strands of Christian denominations, but never this image of God is completely foreign to those who carry the faith as it has been handed down by the Apostles of Jesus Christ.
It is the first theologian of the Church, St. John who declares “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16).
As the world is mourning over new terror attacks nearly every day, we can find comfort in our firm knowledge that God has a deep love for us. We see injustice, pain and suffering and we sometimes wonder “Where is God?” Why are we so quick to forget that God’s love is not mere words. It is fulfilled in the action of dying as an innocent and righteous man upon the holy wood of the cross. We ask “where is God during our suffering?” The Lord answers with silence from His cross.
St. John spoke of something that was not a matter of philosophy or fancy words, but something that he lived and felt and experienced directly. God’s love became flesh and bones and dwelt with the disciples. But God’s love is not limited to what He has done for us on the cross. God’s infinite love for us knows no bounds. He didn’t show His love for us once and then disappear. He pours out His love for us through the coming of the Holy Spirit. So it is within this context that we can give a fresh meaning to the Lord’s words in the gospel today…. “You are the light of the world.”
“You are the light of the world!” This is the Lord’s promise that His love for us has no limits. He loves us so much that He cannot do less than share all of Himself with us. He does this through His teachings and His words. He does this by offering Himself upon the cross. He does this through the Holy gifts of the transformed bread and wine. He does this by pouring out the Holy Spirit upon us.
Those who draw near to Christ by faithful obedience to His commandments are graced with the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit who grants us His divine and godly energy. This gift of the Holy Spirit is indeed light and the presence of the Holy Spirit transforms us from fallen humans into light-bearers. As light bearers, we cannot do anything less that multiply the gifts that God has poured out through His divine love for us. We carry the Spirit and out of the overflow of love we share the gift of God’s light and love with others. As we see tragedies multiply, we must remind ourselves that God is still present and active in our lives and that His presence in our lives means that there is still hope for the world.
Hope won’t come because of a politician, no matter how smooth their words seem. Hope won’t come from legislations and rules. Hope comes as a result of our deep and abiding faith in the God of love. That is hope that cannot be hidden away or kept behind closed doors. It is time that we each get very serious about sharing our hope with others. It really is time to live the life of a Christian and set ourselves apart by our compassion and mercy and purity. It is time that we pray for our co-workers and friends and ask God to open a door to share the message of hope with them. As we share the hope that we have in God’s love, we help to transform lives and this leads to transforming the community around us. This eventually leads to transformation of the world that is currently overflowing with sin, hatred and despair. Yet each act of sacrificial love from one of us is an act that helps redeem the world. Each and every time that we empty ourselves for another, we bring to life and energize our potential as sons and daughters of God.
You and I are not the solutions to the problems of the world. We are nothing without the light of God. But with the light of God, we become His ambassadors of light in the world. We become torches that pass on the light to various dark corners. First the dark corners of our own hearts are brought to light and transformed. Next we pass this divine light to others. So think about the places where God has placed you and what you can do to be a light bearer. Likewise we have to do the same as the Orthodox Christian community in this particular area. What can we do to be light to our neighbors? What can we do to inspire others with God’s love? I want us to think about this seriously as a group. What can we do to bring glory to God and to move others to seek to follow this God who is love? Everything is possible for those who carry the light of Christ.
Glory be to God, forever. AMEN.