So my dear friends, I believe it is an indisputable fact that physical life could not exist without light. I mean if the sun literally disappeared, the world would cease. It would become so cold nothing that lives could exist. And even in the natural world that we see, you know, you can notice that flowers and plants turn towards the light because it’s the light that allows them the photosynthesis to survive.
And even in our ordinary life, I mean, the last few weeks have been awfully gloomy, haven’t they? Lots of rain. And yet don’t our spirits perk up when the sun is shining? See, we’re physically created to respond to and welcome the light.
That may be true in the physical world. It is also true in the spiritual world, isn’t it?
Isaiah prophesied a people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Christmas allowed us to celebrate the Light coming into the world, and that Light is the Lord Jesus. And our spirits hunger for that Light because when we allow that Light to enter into our lives, He changes us.
For example, He comes as Light to our minds so that we might be able to understand the truths that really matter. The truths that only God can teach. The truths that allow us to journey life to our real destination, which is to share His very Divine Life and to live in glory forever.
Our spirits yearn for the Light because when you and I fall into the darkness of sin, we know we’re in a place we should not be. For while we could be lured into sin because of false promises or seeking self-gratification, or following the ways of the world, we end up more empty when we sin than when we first began. And so we long for a light that will lead us to a better way in the power of the Holy Spirit, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
And yet, my friends, as we gather today continuing our catechism on discipleship, we must recognize that if we seek the Light of Christ, it comes with a cost. And this week we need to contemplate whether or not you and I are willing to pay that cost. So you may say, Bishop, what ultimately does that mean?
So let’s go back to the physical world for a moment. When we welcome even the natural light, at times it hurts. C.S Lewis tells the story teaching in one of his classes, how, illustrating the cost of inviting the light, he reminded his college students that if you’re sleeping soundly in bed, enjoying yourself in the bliss of sleep, and someone walks in and turns the lights on, and it wakes you up. When you first open your eyes, what do you experience? It can be painful because your eyes need to welcome and adjust the light.
Now, he says the light is not the cause of the pain. You are, because you were not ready to see it, to receive it – see, this cost. So too my friends, in the spiritual life. For last week we recalled that discipleship is a work of the Holy Spirit and it’s aimed first and foremost to proclaim to the world that this Lord is Jesus, who today we recognize is the Light of the World. And so we must contemplate whether or not you and I are willing to pay the price to welcome Him.
So for example, if you and I are willing to have the Light of Christ enter our minds, are we willing to be humble and obedient? Are we willing to set aside our ego and our own opinions? Are we willing to be humble before the Lord and accept the truth as He has taught it? Not as we would like Him to teach us and to repeat the secular phrase to ‘accept the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. Are we willing to pay that price?
And so too my friends if we welcome the light into our spirits and souls, for it comes as fire to burn away our sins. And the truth is, there are some sins in your life and mind that we’re willing to give up, and there are others that perhaps not as easily. We cling to them in the darkness that we create. We compromise with God and say: I will do only this much, but do not ask me for the next step. We will make excuses for ourselves to say, well it ‘really wasn’t all that bad, people do far worse than that, Lord really, in the end, is not 96 percent enough?’
And the answer is ‘no’, it is not. It’s a hundred percent.
And that is why the grace of the Holy Spirit comes so that when the light enters into the darkness of my heart, and yours, we might have the power of God accompanying us to open ever more, the shades and the doors in the secrets of our hearts, so that we might dispel all of the darkness. So we may be truly recreated, one step, one day at a time.
That costs. That demand sacrifice. It can even be painful. But it is all for a greater good that brings true healing, true life, and true hope in your life and mine.
So allow me to suggest in this third week of ordinary time, when we hear the Prophet say ‘a people who walked in darkness have seen a great light’. And you and I come here to the House of our Father to ask for that light to come, allow me to ask you: are you and I willing to pay the price of what discipleship really means? So that the light may truly transform us – one day at a time.
Bishop’s Sunday Mass: Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has begun celebrating Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sundays at 8:30 am, and the faithful throughout the diocese are welcome to join him. For those who plan to attend in person, St. Augustine Cathedral is located at 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (www.thecathedralparish.org), while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/BridgeportDiocese/streams) once Mass concludes.