32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

     Five weeks ago, last Sunday our nation was shaken by the mass shooting in Las Vegas and then last Sunday we were once again saddened to hear of another mass shooting at the Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs Texas. There is no doubt, the world around us is dark and we can easily find ourselves asking what comes next. In fact, this week alone, I received two different emails seriously asking me if the end of the world was near. I’m certainly not a doomsday believer, and I responded to both emails in the same way; by quoting today’s Gospel which reminds us to “stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”[1] While I responded to those emails civilly, I must admit, I find questions about the end of time to be irrelevant. Whether it’s the end of time or not is something we simply cannot control. Since we can only control our own lives, I think we need to put our energy towards that and not to worrying about the end of the world.

     Just as when the end of time occurs is beyond our control so too is the evil that surrounds us, but we can make our own decisions about how we will stand in the midst of the darkness. Standing in the darkness of our world we have two options. We can keep our lamps burning with the light of Christ, or we can stand blindly in the darkness. We can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. Perhaps one of the hidden blessings of the darkness arounds us is that it gives the light of Christ the opportunity to shine all the brighter. Think of it this way, police officers and firefighters save lives every day without any recognition, but in the darkness of the Las Vegas shooting their light shone all the brighter so too Christ’s light shines all the brighter in the darkness of evil.

     For me, the most beautiful liturgical moment in the entire year comes at the Easter Vigil Mass, which starts in the darkness of Holy Saturday night. Everyone gathers around a bonfire and then the big Easter candle is lit from the bonfire. The candle is carried into the completely dark church. The moment the candle enters the Church it lights up the whole church as are reminded that it symbolizes the light of Christ. As the Easter candle makes its way down the center aisle the congregation lights their candles from Easter candle and then light the candles of the people standing next to them and very quickly the darkness of the church is illuminated by everyone’s candles.

     This simple event reminds us that from the greatest darkness, the death of Christ on the cross came the greatest ray of light, the blinding light of the resurrection. It is a personal reminder to each of us, that “the more visible and powerful holiness becomes, the less the devil can conceal himself.”[2] It should be an impetus for each of us to step out of the darkness of sin and into the light of Christ, for “when man steps into the light of Jesus Christ, the devil is convicted and can thus be conquered.”[3]

     Each of us took that first step out of darkness into light at our baptism. Shortly after having the water poured over our heads, our godparents took our baptismal candle and lit if from the same Easter candle that had illuminated the Church on the Easter vigil and the priest said to us “receive the light of Christ.” Then turning to our parents and godparents he said “this light is entruested to you to be kepy burning birghtly… May he keep the falme of faith alive in his heart.”

     No matter how dark the world gets we must keep our light shinning brightly. We must remember that “pain invites us to have recourse to Him who alone can restore peace and give Himself to us.”[4] The darkness of the world shows us the importance of gather here at Mass every Sunday because every Sunday as we gather here at the Mass, we are nourished by God’s Word and receive Jesus in Holy Communion and then at the end of Mass we are sent off back into the world to bring Him to others. Just as at the Easter vigil where the light spreads from one person to the next to light up the dark Church, we are challenged to share the light of Christ with others and slowly illuminate the world. While perhaps we can’t change the whole world we can change the world around us and if each of us did that, our world would be a much better place.

     Living in this time of darkness Jesus gives us the light our world needs to navigate through the darkness and invites us to share it with others. The darkness around us, should give us pause to ask ourselves if we are part of the problem or part of the solution. By the way I live my life do I contribute to the darkness or does my life radiate the love of Christ. So I leave you with two simple questions today. Has your light been kept burning brightly? What must you do to fan the fame of Christ to keep it alive in your heart?

[1] Mt 25:13

[2] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. .Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011.  P. 203

[3] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. .Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011.  P. 203

[4] Reginald Garrigou-LeGrange, O.P. Everlasting Life. Rockford: Tan Publishing.(1952). Pg. 31.

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