Light of My World
by a Madonna House Staff Worker
"All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower." (John 1:4-5)
Jesus Christ is the shining bright light of the world. Jesus is the maker of history, the freer of slaves, the healer, the great lover of man. Jesus is as personal as he is cosmic.
These words may mean little or nothing to us unless, like St. Paul, we are assailed by the light of the living, risen Son of God, unless our hearts are stung and burned by the touch of God's life. There is life which is far more than life. There is joy beyond all imagining. There is, right now, this minute, hope and light and healing for us who are flat on our faces in the muck and mire of our broken humanness.
To all of us who are unhinged in a world which seems utterly dark and without any anchor in reality; to us who are sick, tired, disgusted, assailed by anxiety and fear; to us who long and thirst after goodness and truth; to us on the verge of despair from the emptiness of our search—to us are addressed the living words of Jesus: "Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Then you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light" (Matthew 11:28-30). "I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark; he will have the light of life" (John 8:12).
Jesus knows how confused, tired, and cynical we are. He says exactly what he means and he does just what he says he will do. God is not glib; he is active. He makes himself absolutely available. He tells us who he is and promises that by knowing him we will know light, truth, freedom and abundant life.
Some of us feel that these are wonderful words—but for others—for holy people. Not for us! Yes, what about us who are afraid of death, afraid of our neighbors, afraid of darkness? What about us who are fat and ugly, ashamed and embarrassed? What about us who are mad and hostile and hateful? What about us who are never sober? What about us who have needle scratches up and down our arms? What about us who have our faces in the gutters and our bodies in pain? Yes, what about us hypocrites and phonies, us liars and thieves, us deceivers? Is there hope for the likes of us? How can anyone so without hope and life think that good things could come to him?
In the eyes and minds and hearts of men it is not possible. But God is God and not man, and his love is poured forth on all men without exception or discrimination. It is precisely to us who think little or nothing of ourselves that he is most especially addressing himself. It is precisely to us who suffer the most hideous, embarrassing, and neurotic maladies that the living Gospel of Jesus is proclaimed. "I have not come to call the just, but sinners." (Matthew 9:13)
I am one of those sufferers. I am one of those who have come right up against the wall of despair but who, in that position, have come to know the embrace of the resurrected, alive, powerful Jesus Christ. Being so identified with trouble and negative attitudes, I can state with conviction to the point of folly that God comes to the poor, the afflicted, and the lowly, to heal, to re-fashion, and to console. Out of my personal bondage the Lord called me, and slowly, with his words, he cracked open my heart and there came forth his own love. Having known the touch of mercy and the healing God gives, I know to whom he speaks. I can testify that his word is always love, and his promise is always life. My response is to cleave to his word and his promise so tenaciously that my identity is found only in God's life, in my relationship to him.
When we have known God's life, we desire, as he desires, to speak about it, to proclaim it, to bear his message of love to the ends of the earth. God has swooped down upon us, the afflicted, the sinners, and the lowly, only to set us back into the world so that we can help set his world on fire with love.
I am thoroughly convinced that the Kingdom of God is being established here and now. The Kingdom of God is the Light of the world shining in and through the hearts of those touched by his love.
— Adapted from Coming Home