After mass this morning, I left thinking about the deacon’s homily. Before I go any further, this is not a criticism of the homily. As a matter-of-fact, the homily triggered the grey matter between my ears. The result is that I have found that I can build on the foundation that the deacon laid out this morning.
The Gospel has one line that struck me like Thor’s hammer, “your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’ (Mt 5:13). Today’s homily reminded us that the Christian vocation is to be a light for the world.
There are probably as many interpretations of the “light” imagery as there were people at mass. For each of us our interpretation may meet our spiritual needs. We must hang on to it.
However, we are not a Church of individuals. We are a Community of Shared Meaning. We believe in one set of absolute truths.
A light is that which illumines the darkness. St. Ignatius of Loyola, one of the spiritual masters in Church history, teaches us that man is in a constant state of tension between two angels, the angel of light and the angel of darkness. The angel of light leads us away from sin toward God. The angel of darkness leads us in the opposite direction.
If we apply what St. Ignatius teaches us to what Matthew the Evangelist quotes from the mouth of Jesus, it becomes clear that we are called to be the light of the world. But we can only be a light to the world when we choose to be led by the angel of light, not the angel of darkness.
The angel of light is the Angel of Truth. While the angel of darkness, is the Angel of Sin.
To be a light in the world, we must be very aware of what sin is and the natural consequences for those who follow the Angel of Sin. Sin is not a matter of personal feeling. It’s not even a matter of personal belief. I can’t say to God that I did this or that, because I believed it was the right thing to do, when God has clearly spoken through the scriptures, through the Fathers of the Church and Sacred Tradition and through the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church). That will not fly with God. We cannot justify ourselves because we disagree with God and believe that our opinion is better than His or that He always agrees with us. The man who is a true light of the world is the man who knowingly chooses to follow the Angel of Truth, even when truth is hard to swallow.
The man of darkness, is he who follows the Angel of Sin, because he has decided that his personal belief about what’s right and wrong trumps the truth that God revealed about right and wrong.
This morning the deacon said that we can choose to “feed the good wolf or the bad wolf.” For people who suffer from cynophobia (look it up), there is no such thing as a “good canine”. So, let’s use St. Ignatius, who said the same thing using language from the great Catholic mystics.
If you choose to do and to support truth that has been revealed by God through the Church, the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition, you are a powerful light to those who care to look. People like St. Francis of Assisi were not small lights. Their fidelity to God’s moral law and to the Truth taught to us by God through the Church and Scripture turned them into bright stars that continue to shed light hundreds of years after their death.
To be a light, there is only one choice. Run away from sin.