In the four gospels, much of Jesus teachings are in the form of parables, short stories that illustrate some aspects of God and His kingdom. That is why in the gospels of Matt. 13:10-11 and Mk 4:11, Jesus explains to his disciples why he speaks in parables. Beloved in Christ, in Marks gospel there are six parables that relate to the kingdom of God. The parables of the Sower (4:1-20), the Lamp (4:21-25), the Growing Seed (4:26-29), the Mustard Seed (4:30-34), Jesus and the Children (10:13-16), and the Rich Man (10:17-27). Now, in talking about the parable of the lamp, is not just recorded in Mk 4:21-25, but also recorded in Matt. 5:14-16 and Lk. 8:16-18; 11:33-34.
This short parable is used by Jesus to illustrate three different points in different contexts. In the context found in Matt. 5:14-16, Jesus says, even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Jesus point is that, allow the goodness within you to produce good works, so that God is glorify. Also, in the context found in Mk. 4:21-25 and Lk. 8:16-18, Jesus made us to understand that anything hidden or secret will be exposed, because God already knows our inner thoughts. In this context Jesus says, be careful therefore how you hear, for whoever has, to him will be given; and whoever doesnt have, from him will be taken away even that which he thinks he has. Furthermore, in the context found in Lk. 11:33-34, Jesus says, the lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness (Lk. 11:34). Jesus point is that, what we allow our eyes to see affects the goodness (or evil) within us.
Beloved in Christ, the fact that Jesus is the lamp or the light of the world speaks of the way he makes God known, the way which he points to the Father. God created us to be beacon of hope to the world, shining for all to see, lighting the way back to Him. And so, today the Holy Mother Church celebrates the memorial of St. John Bosco. He was a lamp or a light to the people, especially the youth. He founded the Salesian Order, named after St. Francis de Sales. His poor background was never a barrier in touching the lives of the youth of his time. Hence, he is known as the patron of educators and the Apostle of youth.
In the world today, both the old and the young need spiritual touch from God. But the question is, what is our disposition in giving them this spirit-filled touch of God? Let us be determined to be at their service. Show them compassion at the present moment and hold out hope for the future. The measure you give will be the measure you receive (Mk. 4:24).
As people of God, it is either we make a fence or we build a bridge: when you make a fence you will only end up moving about but not to Jesus. But when you build a bridge, you will be able to move to Jesus, to the Father who is loving and merciful. Our lives must serve as a mirror which reflects the Jesus we preach. And it must penetrate the inner most hearts of people, seen and unseen. Therefore, we must be the bridge that link people to God. But one of the problems we are having in churches today, is that some “men and women” of God are selective in bringing people to God. They present some to God and keep the rest for themselves. Such “men and women” of God have defiled themselves and killed the hope of others. In fact, they are doom to be eternally destroyed, unless they change (Ps. 92:7). Remember, the first reading says, let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. For he who has promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23). Failure to bring people to Jesus and Jesus to them, implies that, as Christians, priests and priests to be, our redemption is far at hand, instead of being close at hand as the scripture says (Lk. 21:28).
Beloved in Christ, we are light when we are truly the Church in the world. The Church that bears witness to the loving and faithful work of God to save us, restore us, reconcile us to himself and to each other. The Church that reflects the communion of the Father, Son, and Spirit as a loving and self-giving communion, and helps to bring understanding of God and Gods kingdom in the world. When we neglect doing the will of God, when we refuse to do the necessary things we ought to do as Christians, we are covering the light to shine. When we cover the light to shine, then we have become a people who grope along a wall like the blind, groping like those who have no eyes (Isaiah 59:10). Know that in covering up the light to shine is antithetical to who we are as the Church. We can be a light for Jesus by helping people to see who he is. So, I urge you to go and be light in the world. Jesus says, I am the light of the world (Jn. 8:12), those who walk at night stumble (Jn. 11:10), I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness (Jn. 12:46). Be a light in dark places. Woe to those who put darkness for light and light for darkness (Isaiah 5:20).
(A Sermon Given in the Catholic Major Seminary of All Saints, Uhiele-Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria, on Thursday 31st January, 2019. Third Week in Ordinary Time Year C. The Memorial of St. John Bosco).