Summary: When the light of God works within us, the darkness outside cannot have any influence on our mission of goodness.
Francesca’s husband Franz went on a business journey. She had no idea when he would return after his business. Two days later, she had a knock on the door in the night. She did not know who it was and what the person wanted. Anxiety, fear and suspicion surfaced. She gripped the revolver, which she had placed under the pillow for self-protection whenever she was alone in the house, and advanced slowly and well prepared for any eventuality towards the door. She asked, “Who is that? What do you want?” From the response she recognised her husband’s voice. Everything was over. The voice of her husband from across the door was a light that brought her back to a mental state of certainty. She was her normal self again.
Ever since the Enlightenment in the West and the appeal of rationalism all over the world, everyone believes that he or she is living an enlightened life. But, the powers of fear, anxiety, mistrust and suspicion that remain hidden under our knowing self are hardly noticeable in the midst of a smooth-running everyday life. These are the areas where Enlightenment has not yet reached. These are the dark areas of our life. And they remain dark even to ourselves. Only in situations where we perceive a threat to our interests and expectations do they surface, and we notice them. Then we look for light that brings us back to safety and certainty.
It is said that the people living in the north pole experience a hightened level of anxiety, mistrust, envy and criminal tendencies during prolonged period of darkness. They hang neonlights on their windows to drive the darkness away. Darkness brings out many of the dark forces from within us. That is why darkness is the symbol of a life of hatred, enemity, suspicion, mistrust, and crime. Such a darkness has many negative consequences for our personal and interpersonal life. When we do not trust one another, when we compete with one another for power or for reputation or for success, then we lose our ability to reason, to love, to forgive, to see the needs of others and to understand others. God becoming human (incarnation) is precisely to bring light into our life, so that the dark forces in our life do not hold sway any more.
The other day I received an email from John Schwartz, a member of a group that mobilises people to help the needy. He writes, “there are many lepers in the world who have never experienced a hug or known what a human touch is!” That we are not able to touch them or embrace them is a sign of the fears and anxieties that dwell within us. St. Francis embraced a leper and he became a saint. That is the spirit of incarnation in human life. When we embrace what is normally considered as less human, we redeem the divinity of ourselves as well as of others. Otherwise we remain slaves of our own darkness.
We hear in the gospel of John 1.6-8, 19-28 that John the Baptist was sent by God to give witness to the Light, that is Jesus Christ, so that through Him all come to the faith that lights up human life. The way he led the people to the Light that was Christ was through the baptism in the Jordan. The water of Jordan stands for the primordial condition before creation. Anyone who goes down in this water proclaims: all the evils that have been till now are as though they never had been. It works like a new creation. This baptism demands from us, that we start our life once again – with ourselves, with our fellowbeings and with God. And from now on we try to do what is right and we avoid what is wrong and we try to respect the legitimate claims of our fellowhumans. Moreover, I must also try to lead my neighbours to this light of God. When we all do that, we see miracles all over the world.
We have seen from the experiences of Francesca and of the people living in the north pole that the darkness around us can bring out the dark forces dormant within us. God is the Light that lights up our interior. The light of God stands for the gospel values of love, forgiveness, trust, etc. When the light of God works within us, the darkness outside cannot have any influence on our behaviour. God asks us to install His light within us through our faithfulness to Christ. We know that light is very important in our life. Light lights up everything, so that we can see our surroundings well and we can put everything in order. In the same way, we will see our own life better and we can put every aspect of our life in order, as God wants, when we let the light of God come into our lives.