Light Of The World
Three to four times a year my family would travel to visit our grandparents and other relatives who lived about four hours from our home. Our drive took us through many farm fields, and I loved looking out the window to see if there were any tractors out in the fields or if maybe I’d see an animal. Often on these trips there would be a somewhat cloudy sky, but here and there rays of light from the sun above would pierce through the clouds as if heaven were shining a spotlight onto the earth.
When I was about 6 or 7 years old I heard the beautiful story of Fatima and how our mother Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Portugal. Her message was to pray and sacrifice for sinners. But what struck me most at the time was how they described her as so beautiful and coming in a ray of light. I was captivated by this thought. The rays of light I saw amidst the cloudy sky on our road trips were how I had pictured Our Lady appearing to the three young shepherd children. And so, in my little girl brain, I put two and two together and was sure that each time I saw a ray of light, that was Our Lady appearing somewhere out there in the fields of Iowa, again and again, to farmers’ children. I longed to see her. I wanted one of those rays to pierce the clouds and illuminate the space around me, culminating with our beautiful Mother next to me bringing me the love of God.
As I think back on this memory and half chuckle, half rejoice in my simple faith, I realize there’s a unique way of appreciating the light when one has been in the darkness. The wonder I had over those rays of light in the fields was because they broke through the dark clouds above me. God’s love is the same and more. He said, “I am the Light of the World” (John 8:12), and “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). When we find ourselves amid the darkness of pain, sorrow, disease, sadness, anxiety, aloneness, dryness, confusion, and even death, the truth of Who He is shines through, and He illuminates our hearts with Himself and His goodness.
As Lent continues its forward journey to Easter, you may find you’re in the darkness of inability, weariness and lack of motivation—in a word, in the midst of the cross. Remember, Jesus said, “Whoever would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). But immediately after this is the passage of the Transfiguration when Jesus is illuminated in His true glory, “where his face shone like the sun and his garments became white as light” (Matthew 17:2). This is the promise of Easter: that after the cross comes the Resurrection, the gift of eternal life—that is, life in Christ.
So, admit that those clouds of weariness, sadness and pain are present, but “lift your eyes to...where our help comes from” (Psalm 121:1), because when that ray of Light breaks through, you’ll see It’s fallen right on you.
Sr. John Paul, CFR