Light is Life. When we're confused, or depressed, or trapped in sin, feeling numb and lifeless, we seem to stumble around in darkness. Weeping all night, our spirits flattened by grief, our hearts can lift when the first rays of dawn enter our window.
Light is Life. In Genesis, God's first words of creation are "Let there be light!" Jesus calls himself the "Light of the World," and says that whoever follows him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. If we believe and trust in him, he promises to lead us out of the darkness of sin, fear, addiction, self-absorbed egotism, and spiritual confusion into the light and life of ever-flowing heavenly grace: love, connectedness, justice, mercy, peace. Jesus, our Light, empowers us to "get" the deepest meanings of existence. Jesus, our Light, is the lightbulb switching on over our heads to free our creativity and our optimism.
Bishop Robert Barron says this about Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary:
"He preached in order to share the truth of God’s kingdom; he went to the cross in order to demonstrate the range of the divine love; he worked miracles because he was the embodiment of Yahweh’s desire to save his people.
"Listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah: 'Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf cleared. Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.'
"These are tremendous words, expressive of Israel’s hope in the saving God. God intends life and abundant life for his people, and he is impatient with a world gone wrong. He longs to set it right, to recreate what sin and fear and death have uncreated."
In Mark 8, 22-26, we hear a story about Jesus healing a blind man.
"They came to Bethsaida, where some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. After spitting on the man's eyes, Jesus placed his hands on him and asked him, 'Can you see anything?'
"The man looked up and said, 'Yes, I can see people, but they look like trees walking around.'
"Jesus again placed his hands on the man's eyes. This time the man looked intently, his eyesight returned, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus then sent him home with the order, 'Don't go back into the village.'"
Let's meditate on this story, line by line. The blind man's friends bring him to Jesus because we are all connected to one another, and in our lives, there are many who lead us to Jesus, beg him to touch us and our lives. But, it's our choice whether we admit to ourselves that we ARE blind, in need of healing. It's our choice whether we want to allow Jesus so close to us that he enters our lives. It's our choice whether, blind as we are, we allow Jesus to take us by the hand, and lead us out and away from everything that distracts us so he can heal us.
Why did Jesus use spit? In John's Gospel, he mixes his spit with earth and uses this as a paste. Got Questions website says, "One possible reason for Jesus’ use of His saliva has to do with the beliefs of His contemporary culture. Several Roman writers and Jewish rabbis considered saliva to be a valid treatment for blindness. Since the people of that day had a high view of saliva’s healing properties, Jesus used spit to communicate His intention to heal. Those being healed would have naturally interpreted Jesus’ spitting as a sign that they would soon be cured.
"The greater need of each of those healed was the need for increased faith. Jesus recognized this spiritual need and offered a physical action as a means of raising their expectations and focusing their faith on Himself. Thus, in Mark 8, the man’s spiritual sight was strengthened even as physical sight was imparted to him."
The fascinating thing that happens in this miracle is that the healing is progressive. After Jesus first lays hands on the blind man, he asks him what he sees, and the man's vision is only partial. He doesn't see people clearly, for they appear to be trees walking. It's only after Jesus lays hands on him a second time that he sees everything clearly. Isn't this just like us? It actually takes a lifetime for us to grow more and more deeply in faith, to focus more and more precisely on Jesus as our Light who empowers us so that we can see clearly, see as God sees.
Fr. Richard Rohr says insightfully, "Remember, light is not so much what you directly see as that by which you see everything else."
In other words, Jesus wants us to use Him as the Light by which we see everyone and everything else, the whole of creation. If Jesus enlightens the eyes of our souls, we see the whole of everyone and everything, the light and darkness, in everyone and everything. We see with love, tenderness, mercy, and forgiveness, and also justly, and peacefully. We see as God sees.
Why do I say that when Jesus is our Light, he affects how we see the whole of creation? In Colossians 1:12-20, we learn that in Jesus, God the beloved Son, the Christ Mystery, God our Father created everything in heaven and on earth, things visible and invisible. Everything was created through him and for him, and in him everything continues in existence. Jesus the Christ unifies and reconciles everything in himself! Jesus the Christ has eternally existed, and all creation exists for him and is brought into wholeness in him. Everyone and everything is important to God, and filled with the Presence, the Life of God. God creates, sees, and loves, the universe. And so, if we see as God sees, everyone and everything deserves our respect, our reverence, our sense of their dignity, because they contain the divine.
Fr. Richard Rohr says,
"All you have to do today is go outside and gaze at one leaf, long and lovingly, until you know, really know, that this leaf is a participation in the eternal being of God. It’s enough to create ecstasy. The seeming value or dignity of an object doesn’t matter; it is the dignity of your relationship to the thing that matters. For a true contemplative, a gratuitously falling leaf will awaken awe and wonder just as much as a golden tabernacle in a cathedral."
Because of our upbringing, our social class, our race, our life experiences, we are all limited human beings, blind in some areas of our lives. We are continually in need of Jesus laying his hands on us another time. For, there is always someone whom we are not seeing clearly in the Light of Jesus, someone who seems to be not human, only a tree walking. It could be a relative, a co-worker, someone with disabilities, someone with darker or lighter skin, someone of a different faith or no faith, a different sexual orientation, someone who inspires such fear or loathing in us that he or she seems to be the Enemy instead of another child of God. Sinful fear, anger, envy, competitiveness, unforgiveness, prejudice, or a desire to use or abuse are some of the spiritual cataracts that are affecting our vision. And so we should be continually on our spiritual knees, crying out,
"Jesus, I'm still blind! Lay your hands on me again, my Light! Help me to see everyone and everything with your eyes! Help me to accept that all people, including me, are both sinners and holy, all of us are on a spiritual journey, needing one another's prayers. Help me to reverence all of your creation - the earth, water, air, insects, animals, and fish - and work so that all is protected and reverenced. I choose you alone to be the Light of the World for me. Do not let me be led astray by any false lights. For you alone are the eternal Light of Life."