Live by His light
Lent serves as a preparation for the celebration of the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Lent gives us the opportunity to focus once again on that which is most important and to examine how we are living our lives.
Light and darkness are powerful images in our Christian tradition. Light speaks to that which is beautiful, true, and good. Darkness speaks to that which is hidden, shameful, and sinful. It is no wonder that Jesus Christ is described in terms of light.
In the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John, Jesus Christ is described as the true light that entered the world. His light is given to lead us to salvation. The light of Jesus Christ is the light that directs our path in this world to that of eternal life.
The beauty of the light of Christ entering our world and our lives is symbolized at the beginning of the Easter Vigil. The paschal candle, which is a symbol of Christ, is lit outside of the church. The deacon carries the paschal candle into the darkened church and sings, “Christ, Our Light!” and we respond, “Thanks be to God!”
All the candles in the church are eventually lit from the flame of the paschal candle. The candles that we hold at the Easter Vigil remind us of our lives. When they are lit from the flame of the paschal candle, we are reminded that Christ is the light of our lives. Without Him, we have no light and no direction. With Him, we are led by the light of truth.
The architecture of our churches is also based upon the idea of light. The great cathedrals of Europe were designed based on the idea that if Christ is our light, we should build places of worship that are infused with light. The pointed arches of the gothic cathedrals allowed for massive spaces that were filled with stained glass which allowed an infusion of natural light throughout the church. The presence of so much natural light in the cathedral allowed the faithful to contemplate the beauty and presence of the supernatural light of Christ in their lives.
Using the time of Lent to examine our lives in the light of Christ also allows us to see the impact we have on our neighbor. We read in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Lent is a time to not only grow in personal sanctity, but to see how we can serve and bring our neighbor to knowledge and love of Christ though our own personal witness.
Seeing our lives in the light of Jesus Christ is the foundation of every vocation in the Church. To see God as the source and goal of all things changes how we live in the world. God has created us, sustains our lives, sanctifies us, and leads us to eternal life with Him. Realization of the good that God has given us opens the door for us to make a return to Him.
Following the light of Christ in our daily lives allows us to hear and answer His call. I would encourage everyone who reads this to think about one person who you think would make a good priest or nun. It might be that Jesus Christ is asking them, or you, to consider the priesthood or religious life. Please pray for that person, but also ask them to consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
Jesus Christ is the light who enlightens our lives and the world. May we live by His light in our lives, may we show forth His light in our actions, and may we lead others to Him.