September 20th, 2020



“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Brothers and Sisters,

The Lord Jesus, our Master, Saviour and God, once said:

“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”

Way back in 1979, Matushka Joanie and I were newly installed in our second assignment, the mission of the Elevation of the Holy Cross in Sacramento. I didn’t listen to the pop radio stations much in those days. I was a late fifties and sixties guy. The Clash, Supertramp, AC/DC, The Talking Heads, anyone or anything Disco was not my taste at all. Yes, by 1979 I had become my parents. “Oh, this music these kids listen to today is just terrible. Music was SO much better back in my day!” 1979 wasn’t entirely a musical wasteland, though. Occasionally someone would play a track or two for me…Pink Floyd or Fleetwood Mac. Pretty good. Not bad. But for me, 1979 pop music will always be about one song, “Love is the Answer” by England Dan (that’s Dan Seals) and John Ford Coley. The chorus of the song goes, “Light of the world, shine on me, Love is the answer. Shine on us all, set us free. Love is the answer.”

The rest of the song has a clear Gospel message, and I loved it that it was being played on ordinary pop radio stations! And this is what it meant to me:

“Light of the world, Lord Jesus Christ, shine on me, and in me, and through me! You Who are love incarnate, You are the only answer for this sad and lonely world. You are the only answer for this divided and angry nation. You are the only answer for my troubled and sinful soul!”

Brothers and Sisters, this is exactly the point that St. Paul made in our Epistle reading this morning. He didn’t package it in a catchy tune, but the message is the same:

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

When those disciples, Peter, James, and John looked into the face of Jesus on top of Mount Tabor, what did they see? Matthew 17:2 tells us, “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” And why did the Light of the World reveal His light and glory to those disciples? St. Peter tells us: So that “you might become communicants of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). That’s right. That’s what it says in Greek. That we all might become communicants, κοινωνοὶ, of the Divine Nature! Not just partakers, not just participants in the Divine Nature, but becoming communicants, ourselves being transformed by the Light. We, being many, become one with Him in the most intimate and transforming way! And in the same way, David says this in Psalm 35:9, “For in Thee is the fountain of Life, and In Thy Light shall we see Light.” In this Psalm verse we understand the word “see,” (“shall we see light) to mean “becoming acquainted with God’s light by experience,” by interaction and communion with it! ὀψόμεθα φῶς!

The Church fathers have a lot to say about the Light of Christ
and our participation and communion with it. I’ll share just 4 patristic snippets:

St Macarius of Egypt says, “The brilliant shining forth of the Holy Spirit is not merely some kind of revelation on the level of conceptual images or merely an illumination of grace. It is the true and unceasing radiance of God’s own light in the soul. (The Freedom of the Nous, Philokalia, vol. III, p 348)

St. Hesychios the Priest writes, “In such souls as behold the beauty of the glory of God Himself…it reveals the Beloved, He Who sits at the right hand of God, and floods them with Light, as the sun’s rays flood the white clouds” (On Watchfulness. Philokalia, vol. 1, pg 168)

St Maximus the Confessor writes, “Just as ignorance divides those who are deluded, so the presence of spiritual light draws together and unites those whom it enlightens. It makes them perfect and brings them back to what really exists; converting them from a multiplicity of opinions, it unites their varied points of view…into one, simple, true and pure spiritual knowledge, and fills them with a single, unifying Light” (V Century on Various Texts; Philokalia, pg 280).

And Abba Philemon said, “The person engaged in spiritual struggle (podvig, ascesis), who has grown close to God, who partakes of the Holy Light, and is wounded by his longing for it, delights in the Lord with an inconceivable spiritual joy!” (Philokalia; vol II, pg 356-357).

So, brothers and sisters, the teaching is easy and the burden is light. Love God. Seek His shing face. Love your neighbor, he is Christ to you! Pray and struggle against your sins and passions, and the Light will come. As Solomon says, “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).

“Light of the world, shine on me! Love IS the answer,” Amen.