"God is light" is the opening theme of 1 John (1:5). The light of God is contrasted with the darkness of Satan, sin and evil. God is pure light. In him there is no darkness at all. If there is darkness in us, then we are not in the pure light of God. The pure light is the truth; darkness is a lie.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, as Romans 3:23 tells us. If we claim not to have sinned, then we are liars. The pure light of God is sinlessness and it is truth. All else has some measure of darkness, sin and fabrication. Since we are not perfect, not pure, then we have elements of darkness, sin and falsehood within us. However, if we confess our sins, God will forgive us and purify us. This is a great promise - like a "get out of jail free" card. If we but sincerely repent and confess our sins, God will forgives us. It's not that he might forgive us, or probably he will forgive us, but he will forgive us. It's a sure thing. God will take us out of the darkness and bring us back into the light. He sets us free from our bad choices.
Thus begins John's argument against those who would deny the reality of sin (1 John 1:5-10). Sin is real and it is present in all of us. If we think it is not, we deceive ourselves.
For Reflection: Have I been thinking that I am past all that sinning "stuff?" I'm too good to sin now. If so, how did this lie get into my thinking?
Let us pray. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you" (Nehemiah 9:5b-6).
Do you know who you are? When you introduce yourself, what do you say? "I am . . . ." Usually our name is the first thing we give. But what if we could not give our name, we had to say something else. And the next word after "I am" has to be a noun, not an adjective. You must say something about who you are (spouse, spreader of the Good News) and not what you are (blessed) or how you look.
It may not be easy at first thought for us to name ourselves in this way. But Jesus gave us several examples for himself. He said, "I am the Light of the World" (John 8:12). It's a huge claim. He didn't say, "I am the Light of Jerusalem" or "I am the Light of Israel." Who is big enough, important enough, bold enough to be the Light of the World? Only Jesus.
For Reflection: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. I know where I came from and where I am going" (John 8:12, 14b). Do I know where I came from and where I am going? How do I complete the sentence,
"I am . . "?
Let us pray. Jesus, you are the Light of the World. You are the light that draws everyone. You are the light that banishes the darkness of evil, corruption, inhumanity and sin. You are the light set on the hill of Calvary. You are the light of our lives. You are the light of the universe. You are the light of heaven.
As we enter this time of thanksgiving and preparation to remember the birth of our Lord, let us begin a series on titles of Jesus. We won't get around to all of them, even all the ones in the New Testament, but we will learn more about Jesus by meditating on the descriptors used for him by the various authors. Learning more about Jesus in turn enriches our prayer life and helps us to praise him.
The book of Revelation is an excellent source of vivid images of Jesus and our first title is Morning Star taken from 22:16. "I am . . . the bright Morning Star." The image of the morning star or the rising sun, the light that shines in the darkness is threaded throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament it is a promise of the one to come. In the New Testament it refers both to Jesus birth and to his return. Until the glorious day of his return, we have the light of Scripture and the inspiration or light of the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts and guide our way.
For Reflection: Think of the Morning Star as you make transitions throughout your day. For other New Testament references see Luke 1:78, Ephesians, 5:14, 2 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 2:28.
Let us pray. Jesus, you are the bright Morning Star, the light of my life, the dispeller of darkness. Your are my lamp, my flashlight, my illuminator. You are the brightness in every dark day.
The image of light runs throughout the Scriptures - both Old and New Testaments. So let's stay with it for a little bit. Our text is Matthew 5:14-16. If we are the light of the world, and Jesus said we are, why do we hide our light?
One reason is we fear being rejected. We are afraid that we will say something to someone about Jesus, or even Christianity in general, and they will reject what we say and thereby reject us. Does this happen? Of course it does. As Christians we come from a long line of people who have been rejected. The Old Testament prophets were rejected in their day even though they were Jews speaking to Jews. Moving to the New Testament, John the Baptist was rejected. Jesus was rejected. Peter and the other disciples were rejected.
Rejection did not stop them from letting their light shine, from doing what God told them to do, and saying what God told them to say. Which takes us back to verse 11 of Matthew 5: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." To this we can add these verses from 1 John 4: "God is love. . . . There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear."
So being rejected sometimes should not be unexpected for us. Knowing that we will be rejected sometimes helps to take the fear out of it. It will come in the normal course of events. But we won't be rejected every time, and people really need to hear the message of Jesus from us. Let's not hide our light.
For Reflection: What is greater in me - the love of God or the fear of rejection?
Let us pray. God, you are perfect love. I give you my fear of rejection. I trust that even when I am rejected you will take care of me. Help me to let my light shine today.
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).
Let us pray. Jesus, I always considered you the light of the world. But you said that we are the light of the world.
School has begun in many places either last week or this week. Thinking about children reminded me of St. John's habit of addressing us as "dear children" in his letters.
By the time John writes his letters he is an older man. A little bit of the newness of Christianity has begun to wear off and some people have begun to slip back into their old ways. False teachers have come along and led people astray. John, one of the original 12 disciples, an eyewitness to the life of Jesus, sets out to correct this and does it by presenting for us several contrasts or choices. The first is light versus darkness. "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth." (1 John 1:5-6).
One of the false teachings in John's day was that you could gratify all of your physical desires in whatever way you wanted because your body was going to die anyway. That teaching is still around; it has never gone out of style. Christians today are still tempted by that teaching. But like the college freshman who discovers he has the option to eat ice cream at every meal, we eventually face the consequences of our actions. Some are physical consequences, like the gaining of weight, and some are spiritual consequences, like deadening our spirits to what is really right and wrong. When we deaden our spirits to the truth of right and wrong, we refuse to repent when faced with our sin. We prefer to walk in darkness rather than in the light.
For reflection: "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense -- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2).
Let us pray. Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to offer himself for my sin. May I always take advantage of that sacrifice and confess my sin. I want always to walk in your light. Please help me to recognize false teachings and to reject the lure of error and sin.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.