Advent has begun. This season of joyful, hopeful waiting pulls us out of ourselves and towards the light of His birth. Advent is all about light. As the days grow shorter and the darkness seems to overtake us, a great Light is sent to lead us. I love the Scripture readings we hear during Advent. Each of them speaks to us of the coming light of our Savior. God’s great love for us bursts forth from heaven and we’re bathed in the uncreated Light of His Son, Jesus Christ. This light lives within each of us who are His followers.
Jesus was foretold in Isaiah, proclaimed in St. John’s gospel and He called Himself “the light of the world” (John 8:12). But what does that mean? What does the star in the east, the candles in our Advent wreath, the haloes in the paintings of the saints or the lights on our Christmas trees—-what does all this light mean for us? Light reveals things. Light shows us what something looks like. The light of Christ reveals the truth of God which is His love for us. Light is the truth of God. Light chases away the darkness. When Christ lives in us, that light shines forth from us, too.
But in my case the light of Christ has a lot of my own darkness to dispel. My sins and my shortcomings do their best to stamp out the light of my inheritance as a child of God. I’m really good at hiding my light under that bushel they talk about (Matthew 5:15). I’m very much a work in progress. Maybe you feels the same way. But we can still do this: we can point to the Light. We can show the Light to others. We can be a way for our friends and family to see the Light of the world. And we can try these things:
1. Speak well of others. Don’t gossip. Use your words to build others up, not to tear them down. This includes our online words on Facebook and Twitter, the jokes we share and the photos and links we post. Are we showing the way to the Light or are we adding to the darkness?
2. Be a servant. Give your time, your talent, and your treasure to help those who have less. Volunteer. Be that anonymous donor the food bank needs or the homeless shelter or the soup kitchen.
3. Take care of your family. Be kind and patient with the ones you love the most. You can’t reflect the Light of Christ if you’re abusive or neglectful of the people closest to you. Love begins at home.
4. Find one new way to pray. Shake up your comfortable prayer routine. If you’ve never prayed the Rosary, then start. Maybe non-verbal prayer has always challenged you. If it has, try again. How about praying the Liturgy of the Hours? Or a novena? Don’t be afraid to ask God to help you pray in a new way.
5. Attend one daily Mass each week. Your presence there is a testimony to Christ, our Light. The graces you’ll receive will allow His Light to shine through you. Mass, Adoration and Confession are the sources of the Light we can share with others.
Advent prepares us for Christ’s coming, both at Christmas and at the end of time. Being Light to others is building the Kingdom of God. And that’s our calling and our purpose.
“God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” I John 1:5