By Sarah Christmyer
“The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.”~Matthew 4:16
I’ve always thought that my eyes would be the worst thing to lose. Not only because I love beauty but because I hate the dark. I think of Bilbo in The Hobbit, encountering nasty, slimy things in underground caves. Or the blind Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark, hiding from criminals in a darkened house. Even in the safe familiarity of my home, I move slowly in the dark. I’m tentative, afraid lest I trip or stub my toe or knock something loose and break it.
There can be darkness inside us, as well. Left by ourselves, it’s easy to be confused by all the voices we hear, lost and afraid, anxious about the future, crushed by sadness, and overwhelmed by obligations or events.
All of this makes today’s gospel good news!
Jesus wants to bring light to the dark places of life
Jesus launches his public ministry in Matthew 4, and the very first thing he does is leave home and seek out “the people who sit in darkness…, dwelling in a land overshadowed by death” (vs. 16).
Did you notice that? Jesus went to them. He didn’t set up camp and say, “come out of the dark,” he entered into obscure towns and dark places. He went to the people who needed him most, bringing his word and healing and the light of his presence.
Jesus wants to come to us, as well. He wants to enter the dark corners of our lives that no one sees, the places where we hide and are afraid to go. The areas that paralyze us and keep us from growing. He wants to go there with the light of his word and transform us by his mercy and love.
We don’t have to worry that our dark is too deep for him. As John wrote in his gospel, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5, emphasis mine).
Make room in your heart for the light of the Word
Today is “Sunday of the Word of God,” a day the Holy Father has asked us to make room in ourselves for the light that comes to us in Scripture:
- We can start with today’s gospel (Matthew 4:12–23), reflecting on it through the day and allowing it to speak into our hearts.
- Or read the Responsorial Psalm, which begins, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” Continue with the whole thing (27:1, 4, 13–14) to learn more and find that light’s benefits and a challenge for the day.
- A third idea is to reflect on Psalm 119, either the whole thing (which is very long) or just a section like verses 105–112, which begins, “Your word, O Lord, is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Learn from those who sit in darkness but have seen a great light!
Lord, come into the dark places of my heart. Bring the light of your word and the grace of your presence. Help me always to walk by that light!
Call to Action
What is an area of your life that is dark with confusion or error, with fear or sin? Ask the Holy Spirit for a word to pierce that darkness and meditate on it or one of the verses above. What do you hear? How can you respond?
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