Did you hear about the elderly gentleman who was driving down the freeway when his car phone rang? He answered. It was his wife.
She said, “Dear, please be careful. I just heard on the news that there's one car going the wrong way down Interstate 10.”
"Heck," said the man, "It's not just one car. There’s hundreds of them!"
I have four questions. What were the first words of God recorded in the bible? “Let there be light.” Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 3. And God saw that the light was good.
Second question. What is the speed of light? The speed of light in a vacuum is about 186,000 miles per second. That translates to 670 million mph. If you could travel at the speed of light, you could go around the Earth seven and a half times in one second.
Third question. If you are travelling in a car at the speed of light and you turn on your headlights, what would happen? I don’t know.
Final question. How many of you have ever been in total darkness? I can remember at least one time being in total darkness. It was in a cave. It can be very scary.
1) We need light to see the physical world. Without light, like in a cave, we could not see where we are going. We would be afraid to take even one step. Without light, we wouldn’t know what we looked like, of what others looked like. Without light, if someone near us asked for help, we wouldn’t know how to help him or her.
But even scarier than physical darkness is the darkness of the soul. Some people can’t see their inner goodness and beauty and live in depression. Some people are blind the needs of others and wallow in selfishness. Some people can’t see the right way to live and go off in all sorts of wrong directions.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). I will show you the right way to live life. I will show you that you are made in the image and likeness of God and are a beautiful temple of the Holy Spirit. I will show you the way to reach out to help your neighbor.
2) In today’s gospel Jesus says to his disciples and us, “You are the light of the world.” He is the light, and we as Christians are a reflection of his light. How can we be light to one another?
Do you remember the song, You Light Up My Life, by Debbie Boone? It was popular in the seventies. One day I attended high school talent show. And one of the acts was a freshman girl who lip-synched the words to this song. This young girl stood in the middle of the stage, moving her lips.
She had on a long fancy dress. Under her dress was a string of Christmas tree lights, unlit. And when she came to the chorus and the words, “You light up my life,” a friend of hers off to the side plugged the electric chord in and out of the socket, and the lights under the girl’s dress would on and off. She never cracked a smile, just went on moving her lips. I never forgot that skit. She took first place. (Years later I did her wedding.)
What is it that can light up everybody’s life? I submit one answer: Appreciation.
Psychologist William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Do you want to make people light up? Appreciate them. Thank them.
Two weeks ago we celebrated Catholic Schools Week. There were special days set aside to show appreciation: to parents, to teachers, to clergy and to students. I assure you the school was full of light all week long with people feeling appreciated.
On Thursday of that week many of the students preformed in a talent show. There was much clapping and shouting out, all of us showing our appreciation to them.
Yes, appreciation can light up a lot of lives.
3) Everyday the news reminds us of the darkness that exists around the world.
If we were baptized as a child, these words were said to our parents or godparents as they received a candle:
Dear Parents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. This child is to walk always as a child of the light. May this child keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. Yes, the flame of faith burning in our hearts casts out darkness.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
We are called to be light to the world. The flame of love burning in our hearts casts out darkness.
To be light to the world also means we help lighten another load others are carrying. This week we are called upon to lighten the load of poorer areas of the archdiocese by giving to the Together in Mission collection. A generous spirit burning in our hearts casts out darkness.
4) Finally, each day we are blessed with the sun. The sun gives us light. The sun gives us warmth. And sun helps us things to grow. As Christians we are called to be like the sun to one another. We are called…
…to be that light that helps others see their inner goodness and beauty,
…to be that warmth that is appreciation, compassion and love,
…and, by our example, to inspire others to grow and be their best self.
Light. Warmth. And growth…
The sun is also very faithful. Never misses a day. Always rises, and always sets. To be like the sun to one another is to be faithful and true, there to be counted upon, in good times and in bad.
Christ our light is faithful, always there for us, in good times and in bad. His light will never go out.
So we pray:
Into your hands, Father,
we commend our spirit.
and light up the world – through us.