Fr. Tim Fountain
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Christ, who came into the world at Christmas, is the light of the world.
The way – only he opens the way to heaven and only he is a reliable guide to the presence of God, he is the light on our path.
The truth – “Jesus is the only perfect image of the Father, and shows us the nature of God.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 849)
The life – we are baptized into Christ and we share his body and blood, “that we may dwell in him, and he in us.”
The world – personalities and earthly powers cast shadows in an effort to hide the personality and power of Christ.
The flesh – our own self-centered nature is a great shadow. We can obsess on our own pleasures or our own pains. We “can’t see past our own nose” when we walk in our own murky thoughts and urges and ignore the light of Christ.
The devil – the “Father of Lies” manipulates and convinces us that dark is light and light is dark. (II Corinthians 11:14).
This Sunday, we are given a last glimpse of “Epiphany” light – the “Aha!” of seeing Christ – to help us against the shadows.
Mark 9:2-9, “The Transfiguration.” Jesus shows his glory to three apostles, just before they follow him to Jerusalem where he will suffer and die. This Gospel lesson comes up at the end of Epiphany, in order to strengthen us to do battle with the shadows during Lent.
(Beginning this Wednesday, we enter a season where we are asked to identify the shadows of the world, the flesh and the devil in our lives, and to seek the light of Christ to disperse them.)
II Corinthians 4:3-6 reminds us of the struggle to keep the light shining in the church. (Background: Paul and his missionaries are being undermined by a self-serving group of leaders, mocked by Paul as the “super apostles.”)
The world seeks to cast shadows over the church, by creating “important” agendas that push Biblical Gospel aside. Paul says that ordained leaders are “your slaves for Jesus’ sake.” Slaves in the ancient world usually had a particular job, assigned by their owner for the good of his family or property. So Paul is saying that preaching the Gospel is his duty, assigned by the master (Christ) for the good of the master’s household (the church). Too often, the “slavery” of the preacher is misinterpreted to mean that the congregation, not Christ, is the master – so the preacher is rewarded for doing this and that to please the people rather than giving them the truth for the sake of Jesus Christ. II Timothy 4:3-4.