“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen”
Today’s readings speak about the Light of the World being extended to all peoples, not just those of Jewish heritage but also to the pagan Gentiles dwelling in “the shadow of death.” Most of us would be among this group - the non-Jewish peoples to whom the Light of Christ was made manifest. What a wonderful grace and gift to us all - no one is excluded but all are invited to live in the light. For over 2000 years, this Christian message has survived and spread throughout the world. Although Christians have faced death and persecution from the beginning, first under Rome’s pagan rulers right up until our own times when anti-Christian ideologies from atheistic Communism to radical Islam have again made Christianity the world’s most persecuted religion, the Light of Christ has never been extinguished.
But there is something destructive and dark upon our nation, a new attack against Christianity, a great evil that has often succeeded in masquerading as good. This is what John Paul II termed “The Culture of Death.” We live in a society that has accepted abortion as “health care” for 44 years and now in many places accepts physician-assisted suicide as “compassion”; a society that accepts relative truth and denies objective truth about good and evil, life and death; the society in which Christians are silenced or accused of bigotry by many loud voices in our neo-pagan culture of death and darkness. Will this dark shadow eventually succeed in extinguishing the light of Christ, where death and open persecution has failed? What can we do to bring Christ’s light to those who are now living in the shadow of death?
Let us, as Catholics, be not afraid to speak the truth with mercy and love in all the places and to all the people in our lives, and to allow the Light of Christ shine out into the world, despite the consequences. Will we be persecuted? Perhaps. Is it worth it? Completely. It’s a matter of life and death.
Readings for Jan. 22, 2017 - Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 8:23-9:3 ~ Ps 27 ~ 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17 ~ Mt 4:12-23