“You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor darkness.”
With these simple words, St. Paul encapsulates the boundary between all human time: BC and AD – before Christ and anno Domini (in the year of our Lord.) One of the fundamental images of the Bible is the distinction between darkness and light, especially as light represents God and His Kingdom and darkness represents Satan and his kingdom. As Isaiah prophesies in Isaiah 60:1-3, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and his glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
This prophesy (repeated in many other places and ways) was fulfilled by the glory of the coming of the Lord in His Incarnation, for as Zacharias prophesied, Christ came to “give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79.) Simeon also saw the cosmic importance of the coming of Christ when he knew he could now depart this world in peace because his eyes had seen God’s salvation (Christ), who was “a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32.)
Jesus is truly the Light of the World that has already been in the world for 2000 years now. This is why His first coming was filled with glory, adorned with angels, and blazed with light (the Star of Bethlehem, for example.) One of the happiest coincidences in the English language (and my personal favorite) is the coincidence between Jesus as the Son and Jesus as the light-giving, life-giving Sun who is the Light of the World.
This all-important time boundary between BC and AD is not only of historical interest but equally applies to each of our lives: each of us has a personal BC and AD, even if the AD begins in the earliest days of life at baptism. Like all of history, our lives are divided between the time when we were in darkness and without Christ in our world and the time when we began to walk in light because Jesus Christ was with us.
One of the tragedies of the American church, however, is that we have often lost the light and chosen to walk in darkness again. Largely on the basis that “since I am already saved it doesn’t make that much difference how I live,” young Christians today (and not only young Christians) live lives that are increasingly difficult to distinguish from the lives of unbelievers. Jesus, the light of the world, has been so covered by darkness that the world can no longer see Him in us, which means it will not see Him at all. We are all supposed to, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, be transformed from glory to glory before the watching world (2 Corinthians 3:18.) But what if the light has become darkness?
St. Paul commands us, therefore, not to sleep or slumber but to be watchful and sober. It is easy in this world to be lulled back to sleep, to fall into a daydream that soon becomes a night dream that eventually is transformed into the nightmare of a darkness without Christ. For it is at night that men get drunk, and it is at night that men sleep. To the degree that we allow our lives to become senseless to God and intoxicated by the things of this world, we have allowed the darkness and chaos to come back into God’s world. To the degree that we sleep while Christ has already raised us with Him, we walk in darkness and will become sleepier and sleepier until, like the Lotus Eaters, we want to do nothing but to sleep in darkness.
But praise be to God who has commanded light to shine out of darkness and who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ! (2 Corinthians 4:6 – Do you see how many wonderful meditations we’ve left undiscovered in 2 Corinthians, the book we just left?)
In light of the great Light to which we are called, let us remember to comfort and encourage each other daily. As St. Paul reminds you: “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor darkness.”
Prayer: Father, thank You for shedding Your light, Your Son, upon us. Praise be to You because the Light of the World has already come into the world and has driven away the darkness of Your people. By Your Spirit, illuminate my path that I might not step into the darkness, and by the grace of Your Son lead me back into the light when I have wandered.
Points for Reflection:
- Meditate on Jesus Christ as the Light of the World. Reflect on how the Light of the World has already come into the world, is here now, and will come in fullness at the end of all time.
- Rejoice as you reflect on the ways that God has filled your life with His light.
- Meditate more fully on one way in which you or someone close to you has been walking into darkness. What means has God given you to begin walking back into His light?
- Enjoy the warmth and light of the sun if you can see it this morning. Use it as a reminder of the light and life to which God has called you through His Son.
Resolution: I resolve to meditate on the fact that in Christ I am already in the light, as well as reflecting on ways I may have begun to step into darkness.
© 2011 Fr. Charles Erlandson
CC Image courtesy of Librarian by Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr.jpg
Category: Give Us This Day