Sunday, January 6, 2019
The blinding Light. . .
Like the Magi of old, the Light of Christ is a small light. It does not completely enlighten the darkness but it does stand out and becomes a magnet for those far off to come near. Guided by the light of the Natal Star, the seasoned travelers set forth on a journey that led them to the Christ. Hidden in infant flesh, they saw the Light not in the sky but in the promise of the ages now kept in the Son of God. They knelt in adoration, offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They returned transformed by the Light of Christ and, though no star is mentioned in their return trip, the Light of Christ accompanied them on their journey home and they were not the same.
When the Light of Christ was more profoundly displayed, on the Mount of Transfiguration for example, it did little to comfort those who saw it but it blinded them. Peter muttered words that seemed out of place and odd but he did not know what to say. It appears the other disciples with him did not say a word. This is not unlike the Old Testament incidents in which God displayed some of His fuller glory to those who were not quite prepared to see it.
On Epiphany we come, drawn to the Light of Christ and by His Spirit. We come as those in darkness who have lights and still live in shadows and darkness. We come as those bidden by the Light of Christ to behold His glory -- yet it is a hidden glory in the splash of baptismal water, in the voice of absolution, in the words of the Gospel preached, and in the taste of bread and wine. We think we are ready for the full Light and we sometimes lament that do not have more, a more profound experience of the glory of God. Sometimes we are blunt with God and wonder if that is all there is to it? We hope and expect awesome glory, blinding light, and the shock and awe of the Mighty God in our midst. Instead He has come as a child from the womb of blessed Mary, as the man standing in the Jordan River, as the teacher not of pithy wisdom but the fear of the Lord that is true wisdom, and as the God who suffers for His people.
Where we lived in New York there were far fewer people and city lights. You could stand outside and see the full display of the night sky with stars and planets and moon. Now we live in a more crowded city so many times bigger than the mountain village then. We stand outside in the evening and night hours and stare at a sky which seems pale and its lights hidden because the glow of the bustling city with its neon, its street lights, its moving lights of cars and trucks, and too many porch lights and the glow of the windows to see much of anything.
Perhaps the star that led the Magi was not all that bright. Perhaps it did not need to be. Darkness was hard to overcome then. Now we think that we are in control of the night. Could it be that the Light of Christ is no dimmer than it ever was but that we are distracted by the light we claim as our own? Could it be that the light of man blinds us so that the Light of Christ is more difficult to see? I suppose we could pray for God to make the Light of Christ glow brighter . . . or we could pray the Lord that the light of men might be dimmed.