You are the light of the world.

Our church recently held its fifth biannual J2A dinner. The newest J2A class sat down for a meal with their parents and mentors, joined by members of the newly formed Rite 13 class, and a few teens from the YAC class to begin their next phase of the Journey to Adulthood program. The 9th and 10th grade-age youth will continue their quest over the next two years to find out more about their place in society, learn more about themselves, explore their spirituality, and be guided in lessons on  sexuality. Below is the meditation I delivered on the passage of Matthew 5: 14-16: “You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Jesus spoke these words in the Sermon on the Mount. Light is nature’s way of sending energy through space. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus used light as a metaphor of energy, encouraging us to use this energy to perform “good works and give glory to our Father in heaven? I hold an image of rays of light coming from a crowd of people as they help their neighbors in need to raise a roof or clear up after a flood. In just a few short descriptive phrases, he helps us understand that light represents the energy of life, one of the most significant gifts that God grants us. How we use each gift that God bestows upon us is part of the covenant we make with Him. Jesus tells us in this passage explicitly and simply what to do with the gift of light, this gift of energy. We cannot hide our light, because light bends around corners, seeping out from under the bushel basket. No one or any thing is able to keep light from streaking along on its path to infinity. If anyone here has ever tried to develop a photo in a darkroom, you know how difficult it is to make a room truly dark.  The energy of our life force is just as insistent. God demands that we tap into this life force to breathe, love one another, live in community, and glorify Him.

This passage holds special meaning for me. Navigating life during the crucial years of 12 – 18 can be particularly challenging as a teen stretches toward adulthood, experiencing emotional turmoil, steering through intellectual potholes, and becoming an individual distinct from parents and siblings and friends. During my teen years I lost several close relatives in rapid succession. The culmination of events threw me into a very fragile, dark and moody state of mind. Life seemed pretty bleak, unexciting and colorless. What finally brought me permanently out of that state? I attribute my acceptance of God’s gift of light to the opportunity to work with the youth of St Luke’s. Young people naturally embody light, and throw off huge amounts of it, and sharing it freely. They know how to let their light shine! They truly do light up everyone’s life. They laugh, ask questions profound and ridiculous, enjoy music and make music, demonstrate unbounded enthusiasm for almost everything, and practice compassion. All the while, energy emanates from their inner light. Take heed! Be warned! There is no place to hide from that light! Praise be to God for giving us the light to glorify Him.