It was a favorite Sunday School song in my 1st-grade class on Sundays! “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine!” We would hold up our right index fingers as we sang the song. What a nice memory.
But then something happened later in life that made my “little light” story shine brighter than ever. I and my brother and our mom were at Ruby Falls in Tennessee. We went on the tour of the deep dark cave there, and part of the tour was when all the lights in the cave were turned off. It was so dark that I couldn’t even see my hand held right in front of my face! I was terrified. Then the tour guide did something that really shocked me. He lit his lighter! That little flame seemed brighter than any light I’d ever seen. It illumined the whole cave!
Turns out, any light shines brighter the deeper the darkness!
Look at our lesson today in Luke 8:16-21:
The Lord said, “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
This passage is so familiar to us. And that may be the biggest problem for us. Familiarity many times allows us to assume we know more than we do!
But this passage has a powerful message for us today. And that message is to put your light where it belongs! Put your light where it will do the job it was intended to do: Help others find their way!
There is something antiseptic about light. It illumines even uncomfortable truths within us and outside us. This Light that Jesus speaks of is that light lit by God in your life and my life. It is the inescapable reality that you and I are made in God’s image to become LIKE Him. And He is selfless, thinking of others and helping others. This Light is meant to be a help to everyone who sees it. This Light is not meant to hide, because if you put this Light under a basket or under a bed, it will go out, smothered by not fulfilling its purpose!
Then, no wonder Jesus reacts as He does to the news that His mother and brothers are here to see Him. His response reveals once again the purpose of the Light; to reveal and invite others to hear and obey and be set free from the darkness of self-centered delusion. Too many want to use Jesus’ response as an excuse to ignore the historical consistent veneration of the Lord’s mother. They want to say “See, Jesus doesn’t want us to praise His mother.” But falling for that too small notion is just another way that the evil one tempts us to “hide” the Light. When we fail to properly understand just WHY the Faith has, since its earliest days, called us to venerate the Theotokos and the saints, we “hide” the Good News that God’s grace can make us like Christ IF we embrace and live out His Word to us. We gain nothing by hiding the consistent witness of the Faith through the centuries with all its fullness and wisdom. We only retreat into the “too small” self-centered “me and Jesus got our own thing going” mentality that ends up doing the very opposite of what we think it will do!
Today, are you hiding the Light within you? This Light is not meant to be hidden and this Light will not be denied. The Light is the Light of Jesus Christ and your life is meant to reflect and share that Light with everyone. It is the very reason for the disciplines of the Faith to polish and discipline and forms your life so that the Light shines from an Orthodox on Purpose life!
P.S. Dear Lord, You are the True Light that enlightens all the universe. And You give us Yourself and that lights us up and keeps us from stumbling in the darkness of our blindness to Your love. Please help me embrace the reality that having Your Light within me is meant to be shared with those around me. Help me stay free from the short-sighted choice to try to hide Your light in my life. Because, Lord, I know if I hide Your light, I risk losing Your light. Amen.