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Sunday, January 8, 2012

From the Pastor - Let Your Light Shine

A weekly column by Father George Rutler.

The Feast of the Epiphany is transferred from January 6 to this Sunday, and the following day celebrates the Baptism of Our Lord. Each is about the shedding of light. The Magi were guided by a star, and at the Baptism a light was seen in the sky as a voice disclosed the divinity of Christ. The Baptism of Christ is one of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary because of its Light which is “grace and truth” (John 1:14).

For physical life to last at all there must be light from the sun, and for spiritual life to last forever there must be an entrance into the Light of the World. St. John the Apostle marveled at how the spiritual Light became perceptible through the Incarnation: “Something which has existed since the beginning, that we have heard, and we have seen with our own eyes; that we have watched and touched with our hands: the Word who is life” (1 John 1:1). The Magi saw this in His infancy, and a large crowd saw it on the banks of the Jordan, but the infant and the man were the same Son of God, whose divine nature has no nursery beginning or elderly end.
All saints are like St. John the Baptist in that they were “not the Light, but came to testify to the Light” (John 1:8). Just as created light beams through seven primary colors, so the Light of the World radiates through the seven Sacraments to produce saints. Our Holy Father has approved the required second miracle in each instance for several saints to be canonized in the year 2012. Among them are two New Yorkers: Kateri Tekakwitha, daughter of an Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father in the seventeenth century, and Marianne Cope, a German immigrant to Utica who worked in a factory to support her family after her father became ill, and who died in Hawaii where she worked with lepers along with another saint, Father Damian. These new saints are not to be gazed upon as curious prodigies, for they guide us on our own path to the spiritual luminosity St. Paul described: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Each Mass ends with the marching orders: “Go forth.”  Exit from church is entrance into everything else. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). In the new year, a Christian should resolve to bring at least one other person into that light. For all the marvels he had seen, St. John was not content until he had shared what he had seen: “We are writing this to you to make our own joy complete” (1 John 1:4). 

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