Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
William Holman Hunt painted a beautiful picture “The Light of the World” (1853) based on the verse from Revelations that states, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Rev 3:20) Today’s readings remind us that Christ stands ready at the door to enter our lives and shine His light on our world. We need to listen, open and respond to His invitation. Only then can we experience the fullness of His grace.
In the first reading, the author describes God beckoning us back to him. He “encourages those who are losing hope” and reminds them He has “chosen for them the lot of truth.” The reader is reminded that we must not just return to God, but we must recognize our need for his mercy and our dependence on Him. Because of His love and forgiveness, we are invited to praise Him for all of His Goodness.
The gospel reading is the familiar story of the young man who asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus response to the man is met with disappointment, since the man is told to go beyond just following the commandments and give up worldly goods to follow Jesus. The disciples are reminded by Jesus that eternal life is impossible unless it is from God. The young man hears the knock, opens the door, but is unable to completely open the door to allow Christ to shine His light on His life.
The picture that Hunt painted (The Light of the World) shows Jesus holding a lamp as He knocks on the door. There is no handle on the outside of the door. Hunt when asked about this missing piece explained that this was intentional- God does not force Himself onto us, but He waits at the door allowing us to welcome Him in.
I recently came across an idea that Christ as the Light of the world actually shines His light in our world, so we can see the world as He does. “This is the illuminating light that enlightens all things, making it possible for us to see things in their fullness. Light is less something we see directly and more something by which we see all other things. When Jesus Christ calls himself the “Light of the World” (John 8:12), he is not telling us to look just at him, but to look out at life with his all-merciful and non-dualistic eyes. We see him so we can see like him—with the same infinite compassion.” (Fr. Richard Rohr) What an amazing way to see the world- lit by the light of Christ!
If we truly could see the world- made in the image of Christ- then this vision will and should have a great impact on the way we think, talk and act. As Jesus said, with God all things are possible, but we have to open the door to let the light in. There can be so many things that stop us from opening the door- for some it might be pride- (I do not need anyone’s help), for others it might be fear- (What will God see when I open that door?), and for others it may just be the distractions of the world (I am too busy, and this is not a priority.) I wonder if the young man in our gospel story was unable to open the door because he was unable to trust that God loves Him so intensely that all will be well, even if he loses all of his material possessions.
As the time of Lent approaches, maybe Christ is calling us to listen and hear Him knocking on the door of our heart. Are we willing to open the door? With the door fully open are we ready to live in the light of Christ? Are we ready to be a “mature Christian who sees Christ in everything and everyone else?” (Fr. Richard Rohr) May each of us have open ears, mind, and heart to hear and respond, so we can live as disciples in the Light of Christ.
Loving Father, Your Son Jesus is the Light of the World that shines your compassion on all things. With the grace of Your Spirit may we be open to His light so we can be like You and bring your mercy and love to the world around us. We pray this through Christ our LORD. Amen.
- Marylynn Herchline