A light in the darkness

Christian Witness is Rooted in Life, Light and Love

Publié : Apr-16-2021

Fr. Wilson Andrade is the pastor of St. Ann Parish and the Native Peoples’ Mission, both in Toronto.

There is an Indian story about teaching wisdom.

A famous guru wanted to teach his disciples about God’s beautiful creation. On a bright moonlit night, he took his disciples to the temple courtyard and silently pointed towards the bright moon with his wooden stick. Then he silently left the place.

His educated disciples were captivated by the guru’s wooden stick and the guru’s shadow that fell on the ground as he walked away. They began a prolonged debate about the significance of their master’s wooden stick and the guru’s shadow on the ground.

As they were discussing, they suddenly noticed a newcomer, an illiterate disciple who stood far away in silence as he enjoyed watching the beautiful moon.

“O Lord, let the light of your face shine on us.” 

Based on today's Scripture passages, I would like to reflect on three words: Life, Light and Love.

Life

Like the disciple in the story above, Peter invites the people to worship the true living God, the God of our ancestors, the Creator and source of all life. In his preaching, he confronts what the people have done in ignorance by rejecting Jesus, “The Holy and Righteous One and killed the author of life.”

Yet, God does not give up on us. Rather, God “raised Jesus Christ from the dead” to give us new life through His suffering and death on the cross.

We are called to celebrate our restoration to new life in Christ, as this message is proclaimed in the preface prayer for Easter: “Jesus has taken away the sins of the world, by dying he has destroyed our death, and by rising restored our life.”

So, we as the community of believers, hear the words of Pope Francis who said, “The Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the gospel.”

Let us truly become the church, the community, of God’s love, renewed in the Holy Spirit to celebrate the Easter joy and believing in the resurrection of the life of Jesus Christ.  

Light

Just as life grows in light, so too does the Easter joy of new life. It glows with the light of Christ. Easter light leads all life into the mystery of God’s glory experienced in the truth of God’s love. 

St. John, in his letter we hear this weekend, invites us to believe that God’s light will shine on our sinfulness, and like the dawn, will wipe away the darkness and death.

We can see how Jesus in this weekend’s Gospel calms the fears of his disciples with the words of peace. He casts away their doubts by sharing the joy of the resurrection, by eating with them and then “by opening their minds to understand the Scriptures, invites them to proclaim the message of mercy and love to all nations.”

We need to ask ourselves: When we experience fear and doubts, are we courageous enough to be open, to experience the presence of Jesus in our prayer and reflection, in the reading of Scriptures and in the celebration of the liturgy and the sacraments?

St. Francis of Assisi reminds us: “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” 

So let us shine the light of Christ to everyone, let that light dispel the darkness of our minds and hearts, so that we celebrate life with Easter joy and the peace of Christ.

Love

In today’s readings, Jesus invites his disciples to become the witnesses of His life and resurrection. How do we become the witness of Jesus? 

After washing His disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, Jesus said: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Love is the hallmark of Christian identity. Every Christian witness is founded on love. Saints understood the meaning of this call to be loving witnesses as followers of Christ. One of the famous saints of our times, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, beautifully explained our Christian witness of love in her autobiography, Story of Soul. She wrote: 

I understood that love comprises all vocations – that love is everything, and because it is eternal, embraces all times and places. Our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them. Love can accomplish all things. Things that are most impossible become easy where love is at work. Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing. Let us love, since that is what our hearts were made for. 

St. Therese’s last words before her death, as she was holding a crucifix, were: “I found my Vocation, O Lord, I love you, my God.”

It is in love that we are enlightened to find meaning and purpose in our life. Let us be witnesses of God’s love to all.

Prayer

Let the Gospel acclamation become our mantra/antiphon of our prayer:

Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn with love when you speak. And we pray: God, the author of life, fill us with your light of love. Amen. 

This reflection is based on the readings from the Third Sunday of Easter, Year B: Acts 3.13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2.1-5; and Luke 24.35-48.