Recognizing the Light

“The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Clearly light is a critical component in the spiritual life.

Our theme today is recognizing the light. The first reading taken from a letter authored by Hidegard of Bingen, reflects on her experience with The Living Light, which is her name for God.. She embodied this light throughout her life.This was the source of her creativity and teaching. Hidegard talks about a lofty mountain where flowers and precious herbs grow. She is concerned when darkness overshadows the mountain and keeps the mountain hidden or out of reach. She is concerned that the scent of the flowers and the precious herbs will be forgotten or destroyed if darkness overshadows the mountain. The scent of the flowers and the precious herbs symbolize life giving traits and attributes of people who are enlightened .These people call us to the Living Light and inspire us to become our best selves. Hildegard uses the word greening or veriditas to describe how God brings life to our soul.

The writer known as Matthew pictures Jesus leaving Nazareth after John is arrested possibly to avoid the darkness surrounding that event. Jesus begins his ministry in Capernaum by calling Peter and Andrew to join him in his mission. It is hard to understand why Peter and John would leave their jobs and families to go with Jesus. What did Jesus see in these fishermen and what did the fishermen see in Jesus to make this abrupt change? They saw something in each other that inspired them to enter into a relationship that would change the world.

I think we all have the ability to recognize the living light. We are called to inspire  others and be inspired by others. We need light to dispel the darkness within ourselves. Just as Hildegard was concerned that the fragrance of the flowers would be hidden and the precious herbs would be unseen and forgotten we continue to this day to seek inspirational truth that will nurture the greening of our lives so that our inherent beauty will not be overshadowed by darkness..

Think about a person who inspired you. What did you see in them to make you want to be like them?Attributes that inspire us include courage, authenticity, kindness, respect, fairness, creativity, wisdom, compassion and unconditional love. When people exhibit these life giving qualities we experience the great light in them.  When people rise above suffering and violence we are inspired. We are all called to rise above the challenges and circumstances of our lives. To recognize the light, follow it and be transformed by it is how we awaken and reach our full potential. People followed Gahndi, Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman to manifest the kindom on earth.

If we choose life then we must embrace the great light so that we are truthful, loving and just to ourselves and others. This is what it means to live as people who have seen a great light. We are people who are called to allow the dark places inside ourselves to be seen and changed. In doing this we approach the darkness of the world with authentic and loving hearts. Today’s readings invite us to recognize the living light in ourselves and others so that we are changed and the world is changed. What did you hear in the readings?

Donna Panaro, ARCWP Priest