By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Monday, January 5, 2015

Light for the World

We have just celebrated the solemn feast of Epiphany. One cannot recall the story of the visitation of the wise men and not think of the fascinating image of the star. Perhaps more than any other in this story, the image of the star has captured the imaginations of men and women through the centuries.
By the light of this star, the wise men were led to Christ. I suggest we give thanks to God for the “light” by which each of us was led to our saving encounter with the Lord. Perhaps it was by the light of parental example that we found Christ. Many of us were brought to the Church as infants by our parents for union with the Lord in baptism, and then taught by them to love and serve Christ as the way of salvation. Perhaps we were led to the Lord by the light of charity extended by Christians to people in need. The witness of love draws us to its source, who is Christ. Perhaps we came to Christ by the light of the Scriptures. The words of truth in the sacred texts fully satisfy the human search for meaning and direction and summon us to membership in the Church. In these and many other ways, the Holy Spirit gives us a light which leads us to the one, true Light, Jesus Christ.

Epiphany also impels us to mission, to be “light” for those who are seeking the Saviour. In the Gospel for the liturgy, God assigns to a star the task of leading the representatives of the nations to His Son. Now, that mission has been entrusted to the Church. As a member of Christ’s Body, each of us is called to be a light which will lead the men and women of our day to the Lord. Christ has come for all, yet so many have yet to know him. He has come to give unity, yet barriers of hostility continue to divide peoples and nations. He has come as the light of truth, but the darkness of moral confusion still causes many to stumble. There is a deep yearning in the human hearts of today for peace and happiness, a longing that is ultimately a hunger for God. Our feast today teaches that this yearning is only fulfilled by encountering Jesus Christ. We are called to be the light which leads others to Him.

We fulfill this role by the holiness of our lives. Living with integrity and joy the consequences of our baptism, we shine out as a light which draws men and women to Jesus Christ. Sin dims the light and weakens the credibility of our witness. The importance of our mission, then, calls us to constant self-examination. For example, we could ask: Is there anything of King Herod in my heart? He was frightened by the news of Christ’s birth, recognizing in the child a threat to his rule. In what ways am I resistant to the rule of Christ in my heart? Am I ruled more by my own selfish desires than by His plan of love? Or I could ask: Am I like the chief priests and scribes? They told Herod that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, yet they were indifferent to the news of Christ’s birth and made no effort to go to him and see for themselves. In what ways am I indifferent to the good news of the Gospel? Have I grown complacent, no longer seeking to be more deeply converted to the Lord? Such questions cannot be avoided if we are to be faithful to the call to lead others to Christ. When we examine our lives with humble confidence in His mercy, He will transform us by His love and enable us to be a light of hope in our world.