Light of the World

In the Gospel of Matthew (5:14-19), Jesus is talking to today's faithful, saying "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." 

Every person likes to shine. We want people to know about our achievements, our giving, our acts of charity, so they may praise us.

Jesus is not saying we should seek our own praise, but to praise "The Father who is in heaven". Our sole purpose is to glorify God, letting our light shine that others might see and glorify Him. Our Lord is stating a simple fact. His followers must be the light of this world. That is what God had chosen to make of us.

Jesus is not talking to impress people with piety and good works. He is telling us that we cannot and should not hide our faith, to be practicing it and discussing it only behind closed doors and at the dinner table. We are his disciples, therefore, we are to be committed to a way of life in this world, His Church's way of life. Not because we want it this or that way, or to get attention, but because God is telling us to be obedient in ways that cannot be hidden - just as we cannot hide a city built on a hill". 

Our world is in need of high-fidelity believers. Fidelity to the Gospel. The original is our Lord and His church. From Him we hear and learn what He wants us to be. And through obedience and grace, He gives strength, in prayer, fasting, and sacraments. We are asked to reproduce the original in our lives as faithfully as possible. 

In a society that is so widely and deeply unchristian, our Lord expects us to live, in the words of St Paul as "blameless and innocent as children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as light" (Phil 2:15).

We are asked not to conform to the world around us or to our old world, we are called to be different, conformed to God in Christ. We are called to reflect not the mores of our culture, but the mind of Christ in his church. "We are in this world, yet not of this world," said the Lord.

Dostoievski speaking in Father Zossimi book where the good priest informs Alyosha that a Christian takes on tremendous responsibility for his neighbor. He says, "the criminal in your community may be less guilty for his crime than you - his Christian neighbor. For you could have been a light to the evildoer, yet you were not, for the man remained beside you in darkness. If you have loved your neighbour as yourself and lavished upon him some of the care you generously lavish upon yourself, shared some of the warmth God has provided you to possess, that criminal might have been changed in time."

There was a German soldier who was injured during the second world war on the Russian front. The other soldiers left the place without realizing that he was injured. He crawled until he arrived to a small house. He knocked. An old Russian lady opened up for him. She cleaned his injury, offered him food and bed to sleep. Four days passed by, and the soldier was unable to understand why this enemy is taking good care of him whislt endangering her own life for him. Finally he saw an icon of St Mary in her bedroom. He realised that she was an Orthodox faithful. He left the house for the German frontier. Unfortunately for him, he had lost his way and returned to the same place. He found the house in ruin, the old lady had gone. He inquired about her. He was told that the soldiers found out about her helping an enemy, they destroyed her house and sent her to prison. He managed to go and see her. She was happy and cheerful because God had used her as an instrument of his love to change the life of another person.

The soldier became a priest in his country and he is still alive. 

We often hear people saying, "There is much evil and darkness in the world". Here precisely lies our challenge. More than ever before, Christ needs us to pierce the darkness with the light of His Truth and love in our daily life.

A little girl who was gazed upon a stained–glass window in her Church through which the sun was shining. She exclaimed : "Now, I know what Christians are, they are people through whom the light of Christ shines."

May the light of Christ shine through all of us, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Metropolitan Paul Saliba

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