Reflections on the Readings
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - February 6, 2011 - Year A
By Dennis S. Hankins
This Little Light of Mine
"Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father." - Jesus
I remember when I was a little boy going to Vacation Bible School. I sang with gusto in those days, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!" Oh what a message that little church jingle carries in its peppy tune. "Everywhere I go, I'm gonna let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine."
Jesus is talking to us today about our presence in his world. Into this world, enslaved by the blinding darkness of sin, of injustice and of unrest, Jesus came as the Light of the world. Personifying the metaphors of salt and light, Jesus looks into our eyes to give us our mission in life - "You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world!" Jesus whispers into our hearts. Continuing his gaze into our innermost being, Jesus watches to see our response to the commission he gives each one of us. Will we share our bread with the hungry? Will we provide shelter for the oppressed and the homeless; will we clothe the naked? Or will we turn our back and hide our light under a basket? If the salt loses its taste, it is no longer good for anything; nor is a light hidden under a bushel basket.
Preparing for this 'Reflection,' I pondered again what it means to be a follower of Christ; to be in the world, but not of it. I thought of the Catholic politicians who are personally opposed to abortion, but that's as far as they let their light shine. Something about the separation of Church and State, they opine, or "I don't want to force my ideas on anybody," they say. And the culture of death extends its reach in more and more deceptive ways.
I remember reading somewhere about a Christian college student. The student went through all four years of his studies without persecution, without misunderstanding, and without being ostracized. Later he explained that he had managed to go through college without anyone being aware of his faith. Hmm.
Then I thought about Asia Bibi of Pakistan, now living with a death sentence. She is imprisoned on charges of insulting Islam. Asia Bibi is 45 years old and is the mother of four. The supreme court of Pakistan has ruled that the President of the country cannot pardon her. Today this Christian woman remains in custody, living daily within the shadow of death. Through baptism, we are united with Asia. We, too, must let our light shine through oppression, false accusation, and malicious speech. Her light continues to shine in a very dark and trying hour.
In communion with Christ, we keep the flavor and the light of Christ in our witness. With a deep and daily fellowship with our Lord, we will remain powerful in proclaiming the mystery of God, in spite of our weakness, fear, and trepidation. We are not irresistible because of any powers of persuasion or language. No, there is something indefinably potent about the Christian witness. The power of God infuses us as we stay focused on the crucified Jesus, and our interaction with others is with the Spirit's power.
So, what about you? Are you hiding your light under anything? Anytime? Do you find it an invitation or an inconvenience to let your little light shine? Do the words of Jesus about the majesty and the mission and the message of being a city set on a hill move you? Christ's witnesses are sent into the world to let their light shine before all people, that they may see the goodness and the glory of our Father.
If we will let our light shine, we will bring light to that part of the world that is ours to shine in. There is no house or job or activity where our light is not needed. Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org