Saturday, April 1, 2017

Fumbling For A Light

Imagine stepping into a room so dark that you cannot see anything.

The first thing you do is run your hands against the wall to look for the light switch. When you cannot find it, you start to walk into the room with short, halting steps so that you do not bump into anything. To make sure you don’t trip and fall, you stretch your arms out in front of you, trying to feel your way in the darkness.

As your eyes get accustomed to the dark, you can make out some shadowy objects that look like chairs and maybe a desk. Then you take out your cell phone and use the light from it to look around the room. However, it only gives you fleeting glimpses of the objects  in the room. If you are going to see clearly, you will need to find the light switch.

Then the door behind you opens and someone walks into the room. “Who’s there?”, you cry out. The person asks, “What are you doing here in the dark?” You answer, “I couldn’t find the light switch?” He then walks over to it and turns the overhead lights on for you. You feel some relief and even laugh about how helpless you were in the dark.

This image of someone walking into a dark room is really the story of our lives. Each of us is born into a dark world. We are totally dependent on our parents and other adults to provide for us. Everything around us seems so big and dangerous. As we grow up, we do not always see clearly the difference between right and wrong. We are unsure what will help us and what will harm us. As time goes by, we have to learn that we cannot always get our way and that what is good for us is not always good for others. If we are blessed enough to have good parents and teachers, we learn the value of honesty and hard work. Still, as we grow into adulthood, we have to stumble in the dark many times. Like the man in the dark room, we have to take short steps to make sure we do not hurt ourselves.

Many of us, have spent most of our lives like the man in the dark room before the lights were turned on. We might have had some values to guide us, but we could never see clearly enough to feel safe. At the same time, we were content to have just enough light not to bump into or trip over anything. Others of us became used to the dark. We figured that what we could not see could not hurt us. At the same time, by staying in the dark, we could not see how helpless, weak and vulnerable we really were. Sadly, many people in the world today live their lives this way.

However, many of us were blessed at some point in our journey to have the lights turned on for us. We experienced the relief and joy of finally seeing things as they really were. We laid eyes on the beautiful colors and forms that the darkness obscured. And we finally saw ourselves as we were - beautiful and lovable if also wounded and afraid.

What was that light that was turned on for us? It was Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

Once we came to believe in Him, our lives finally made sense. We realized that God created us in His image and likeness and that, through baptism, we have the incomparable dignity of being His children. For the first time, we found real purpose in our existence when we understood that we were destined to live with Him forever in Heaven. Our attitudes and behavior also changed as we learned through His word that the key to happiness is putting others before ourselves. In the light of Christ, everything became clearer and we walked with renewed confidence and hope.

How can we have our eyes opened to the light of Jesus Christ like the blind man in today’s gospel?

The first step is to invite Jesus into your heart. He loves you and wants to dispel the darkness around you. It is as simple as saying, “Jesus, I want to make you the center of my life.” Then a change will begin to take place within you. At first, we may only see faint glimmers of light like the first rays of the sun at dawn. But it will be enough to guide us on those first steps of the journey. As we make progress, committing ourselves daily to keeping Christ and His light at the center of our lives, we will see even more clearly.

The second step is to go to confession. The darkness in our life is caused by sin. We have made bad choices that have lead us away from Christ and His light. To dispel that darkness, we have to confess our sins and allow a light to be shone on ourselves as we truly are. Very often, we prefer to stay in darkness because of the shame and guilt we are carrying. Bringing that all to the Sacrament of Confession will free us from that burden and help us feel more comfortable walking in the light.

Finally, to live in the light of Christ, we must know His teaching. The Bible tells us that God’s word is a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” By spending some time everyday reading Scripture, we will come to see reality as God sees it. Understanding the mind of God, we will make healthier and holier choices. Another important tool for helping us understand Jesus’ teaching is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Sometimes the Bible alone can be difficult to understand and apply to our lives. The Catechism helps us to do just that and is indispensable in forming our consciences.

Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, has shone in our midst, dispelling the darkness of sin and error. That light is available to all those who call upon Him and are willing to put His light at the center of their lives. We no longer have to stumble around in the darkness or hide out of shame. We can step into the light and walk with confidence and peace that we will not fall. Jesus Christ makes it all possible once we allow Him to turn the lights on for us.

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