The Light of Christ
“You appeared to the world today, and Your light, Lord, has left its mark upon us.”
We hear these words in one of the Epiphany hymns which we celebrate on January 6. Think about that: “Your light, Lord, has left its mark upon us.”
Is this a true statement? Have each of us allowed the light of Jesus Christ to leave His mark on our lives? And what does it actually mean to have the light of Christ shine upon us? What impact should His divine light have in our lives?
These are some important questions to reflect upon as we begin a New Year. Any serious Orthodox Christian should longingly desire to have the divine light of our Lord shine within our hearts!
There is a beautiful prayer of the Church that can shed some understanding to what impact the light of Christ dwelling within us will have. Maybe each one of us can try to memorize this prayer, and say it throughout this New Year:
Shine within our hearts, Loving Master, the pure light of Your divine knowledge and open up our eyes that we may understand the message of your divine Gospel. Instill in us also reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that having conquered sinful desires, we may pursue a spiritual way of life, thinking and doing all those things that are pleasing to You. For You are the light of our souls and bodies, and to You do we offer up all glory, honor and worship, to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto the ages of ages..
This prayer that we say at every Divine Liturgy, first of all teaches us that the light of Christ opens up our minds to the holy mysteries of God. Too often our eyes are focused solely on superficial and worldly things, instead of on meaningful and eternal precepts. We fill our minds daily with the mundane we hear on radio, TV, and the internet. Yet the light of Christ opens our minds to what is pure and holy and truly good in the world around us. This light then gives us a positive perspective through which to see the world, because we see the good instead of the bad!
We also hear how the light of Christ guides us to respect and even revere the blessed commandments of God. How often do people look at God’s Commandments as some unwanted burden? Too many people dread God’s Commandments as some rules or laws that hinder us from enjoying ourselves. Well, the light of Christ opens up our eyes to understand that these commandments our Creator gave us are guidelines which will bless us and help us get the most out of life. Doesn’t it make sense that the One who created us knows what is best for His creation? Living under the light of Christ helps us appreciate and even love God’s Commandments. They will not be seen as a burden, but as a true blessing that enriches our lives!
A third aspect coming from the light of Christ, which we see in this prayer, is that His light helps us conquer our sinful desires. When we live under the light of God, we no longer live under the delusions of this world. Nothing can be hidden, and therefore, we see our sinful habits and ways more clearly - as habits that hurt and corrupt our soul, and separate us from our loving, heavenly Father. At the second coming of Jesus, we want to be standing in front of Him with white robes of purity and love, not covered with the filth of sin. The light of Christ helps not to be deceived.
One final lesson learned from this prayer is how the divine light guides us to walk a spiritual life. This spiritual life is a life that is pleasing to God, a life according to His will. In other words, the spiritual life is a life united to God - a life where we walk as Jesus walked! When we live under God’s light, we live in love and harmony with God, with our neighbor, and with the world around us. Divine light does not allow the darkness of hatred, anger, hurt, bitterness, resentment, guilt, greed, or impurity to reside in us.
As we begin a new year, may we all sincerely seek out, and pray for this divine light. May it shine in us brightly, and may we radiate His light back to the world around us.
With love and hope in the New Year.
Welcome to our Church