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Along the Way
light of the world
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This little light of mine...I'm going to let it shine!

Having raised three children and sent them to Catholic Schools, as well as being part way with the fourth, I have been to my fair share of school programs. In addition, my wife was a Sunday school teacher for many years. She loved to have the children do programs and I attended every one of the programs her students gave. Among the scores of school programs I attended, what I liked about many of them was when the children sang “This little light of mine”. While it is considered a children’s hymn, the song is one of the most profound hymns ever written. It is based on today’s gospel and should be the theme song playing as background to our entire lives.


Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world. Imagine a world literally in darkness, blind to everything around it, unable to safely put one foot in front of another. Realize that in this vast darkness and confusion there is only one source of light and that is you and I. People live in fear and suffering because of the darkness. People go to their deaths because of the darkness. What responsibility we have! We are the source of light that allows those around us to see and to act wisely and safely. We must allow the light within us to shine brightly that it may be seen by others and give them hope.


We are not the ultimate source of the light but rather like lamps allowing the light to be seen as it burns within us. The ultimate source of the light is Christ., for John tells us in the opening of his gospel, “The Word was the true light that enlightens all men…” It is the light of Christ shining in us that is the light in the darkness and the cause of hope.


These are beautiful words but normally if I walk into a darkened room I still need to turn on the light switch. What does it mean when we are asked to be what we are…the light of the world?


This question takes us back to 1 John 4:8. God is love. On this side of eternity, at least, if we are to perceive God in any way we can begin to comprehend we must perceive God as love. Not the sacharine emotion spoken of in St. Valentine’s Day cards but in a life giving commitment to the well-being of those around us which is manifest in our actions. People see the light of Christ blazing not in some errie glow we give off but in our actions which makes love concrete and present in this world. This is evident in the first reading form Isaiah 58, where we are told to “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn…”

We can stand around complaining about what is happening to our culture, how morals are breaking down and how our children seem to lack any sense of right and wrong. We can curse the darkness but that does no good for what else can one do in the darkness but stumble around and get hurt. We are the light of the world! If we hide that light, then what can we expect but that those around us will continue to stumble and fall in the darkness. Christ tells us to let that light shine in the darkness. He is not saying that we are to preach to any one or thump anyone over the head with the family bible. He is telling us to let the light of love so fill our lives and all of our actions that the light of love will shine from us like a lighthouse illuminating the darkness.


This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…let it shine…let it shine!

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Also read A Course in Christian Spirituality by Deacon Shewman that is available through this link.

(c) 1997-2008. Richard Shewman. All stories, articles, reflections and other written material contained in this website are the creative fruit and property of Richard Shewman. All rights are reserved. The written material contained in this website may not be reproduced or published in any form, except for the individual and personal use of the reader, without the express consent of the author.