The Light of Christ

On the Feast of the Epiphany, we celebrated the truth that Jesus Christ came not only for the Old Testament Covenant people of Israel, but also for those outside of Israel who would place their faith in Him. The Magi were the first Gentile people to whom Christ revealed Himself. How exactly did Jesus manifest Himself to these Gentiles? He did so by a bright star shining in the East above the place where the Christ child was. In other worlds, Jesus revealed Himself to them by a great light. In connection with this face, it is very interesting that in Luke 2:32, Simeon says of Jesus that He is a “a light for the revelation of the Gentiles.”

It should not surprise us, therefore; that the Light of Jesus Christ led the Magi to Him since God is light and in Him is no darkness. We live in a world that has been damaged by sin and darkness as a result of that sin. However, it was not like that in the beginning. God the Father spoke light into existence through His Word (God the Son). God the Son was the light that illuminated the world in its creation.

Even after the Fall of Man, the promise of Jesus’ coming to heal that which was broken was the light that saved all of the Old Testament saints. Then, at the precise time in God’s plan that promised Light came into the world. Jesus Christ is the Light that lightens our darkened souls. His light exposes sin for what it is – lies and ultimately death.

Because of the fact that Christ is the light of the world, the Church has always used many symbols of light in her worship. Listed below are just a few examples of which we all should be mindful.

  • The candles on the altar symbolize that Christ is with us the two Eucharistic candles in particular represent the Deity and Humanity of Jesus and also signify that Christ is present in the Eucharist.
  • The Sanctuary Lamp in front of the tabernacle indicates the Blessed Sacrament is being reserved.The torches that accompany the processional cross represents Christ’s light coming into His House for worship and going out before us into the world in which we are called to share His light with others. The torches also accompany the Gospel Book to show that the Gospel (Good News) is among us.The white Christ called candle at the center of the Advent wreath is lit on Christmas to proclaim the coming of Christ into the world.
  • The Paschal Candle is the first candle lit on Easter after all the lights have been extinguished on Maundy Thursday to represent the Resurrection of our Paschal Lamb, Jesus Christ, who was sacrificed for the sins of the whole world.
  • May the Light of Christ, as it did the Magi, continue to lead us and those around us to the Source of our Salvation.

Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

John, the son of Zebedee, with his brother James, was called from being a fisherman to be a disciple and “fisher of men.” With Peter and James, he became one of the inner group of three disciples whom Jesus chose to be with him at the raising of Jairus’ daughter, at the Transfiguration, and in the garden of Gethsemane.

John and his brother James are recorded in the Gospel as being so hotheaded and impetuous that Jesus nicknamed them “Boanerges.” Which means, “sons of thunder.” They also appear ambitious, in that they sought seats of honor at Jesus’ right and left when he should come into his kingdom; yet they were faithful companions, willing, without knowing the cost, to share the cup Jesus was to drink. When the other disciples responded in anger to the audacity of the brothers in asking for this honor, Jesus explained that in his kingdom leadership and rule takes the form of being a servant to all.

If, as is commonly held, John is to be identified with the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” then he clearly enjoyed a very special relationship with his Master, reclining close to Jesus at the Last Supper, receiving the care of his mother at the cross, and being the first to understand the truth of the empty tomb.

The Acts of the Apostles records John’s presence with Peter on several occasions: the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, before the Sanhedrin, in prison, and on the mission to Samaria to lay hands upon the new converts that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

According to tradition, John later went to Asia Minor and settled at Ephesus. Under the Emperor Domitian, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he experienced the visions recounted in the Book of Revelation. Irenaeus, at the end of the second century, liked to recall how Polycarp, in his old age, had talked about the apostle whom he had known while growing up at Ephesus. It is probable that John died there. He alone of the Twelve is said to have lived to extreme old age and to have been spared a martyr’s death. (The Lesser Feast and Fasts, 1997)