Jesus is the light. John 1:4-5 tells us that: “In [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The phrase “has not overcome” was interpreted in the King James version to say that the darkness did not “comprehend” the light. The Greek can mean either the darkness did not comprehend the light or the darkness did not overcome the light. I prefer to believe both are true.
Darkness exists. It just is. It is inactive and passive, but it is. Without light our human eyes can not see through the darkness. Light, on the other hand is active: it shines through darkness, moves and flows and flitters on and off. Light can be on or not be on, its brightness varies, and it comes and goes with amazing speed. When light shoots out, darkness is overcome–and we can see.
Jesus is the light, incarnate. John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [Jesus] was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. (NRSV) In a wonderful book entitled “Radical Amazement: Contemplative Lessons from Black Holes, Supernovas and Other Wonders of the Universe” Judy Cannato talks about how light has been connected to science’s Big Bang Theory. The “echo” of that big bang was discovered by nobel peace prize winners Perizios and Wilson who heard some kind of a constant static on their ultrasensitive antenna. They learned this static was what Cannato describes as “light in the form of microwave radiation,” the remnant of the “big bang.”
Ms. Cannato quotes theologian and professor of cosmology Gerald Schroeder, who said: “Light, existing outside of time and space, is the metaphysical link between the timeless eternity that preceded our universe and the world of time, space and matter within which we live. … Light can leave the ethereal realm of energy and become matter, entering into the limited domain of time and space.” Jesus is that light. Light entered the realm of darkness when God said with a big bang, “Let there be light.” And the darkness was not able to counter-act the light because it neither understood nor was able to overcome it.
Jesus teaches us to share the light of his goodness in the world. Isaiah 9:2 tells us: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.” Have you ever noticed in some ancient artwork the “halos” that are painted around the heads of angels, the virgin Mary and other spiritual leaders? Halos represent people who are blessed with a special presence of God’s light. Have you ever been able to see a halo around the head of someone who is living in tune with Jesus’ teachings? Have you ever felt a halo yourself? You know, like when you do something really selfless to help someone else and you feel good in your heart about doing it. Nobody else needs to see your halo, but you need to feel it. It will lift your heart and bring you true joy. This world can’t give you that feeling, and it can’t take it away from you. Shine your light!
When more light is brought into the world, the dark matters will not understand and will not be able to overcome the changes that take place, which will make our world more like the Kingdom of God that Isaiah talks about:
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.” (11: 6-9)
“…. [L]etyour light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NRSV) This Advent season, please take some time to contemplate what it means to shine your light.