On this the shortest day of the year it is appropriate that our ‘O Antiphon’ has the theme of light bringing us hope that darkness can never overpower Eternal Light.
Recently while reading an article in the National Geographic on ‘Solar Sailing in Space’- which I did not fully understand! – one sentence caught my attention: scientists in the last century have discovered that “light is pure energy – that property in nature that makes things go, run or happen.” These four words ‘light is pure energy’ seemed to jump out of the page and immediately all the references to light in relation to God in the Old and New Testaments flooded my mind. Light is pure energy! What a wonderful image of God! And how appropriate! Is it possible to describe light? – yet we live and move and have our being in the light.
What scientists are now discovering about the energy of light, the Prophet Habakuk recognised many centuries earlier when he wrote: “His brilliance is like the light – Rays flash from his hands – There his power is hidden.” (Hab 3:4) The author of the Book of Wisdom describes Wisdom as being “quicker to move than any motion – she is so pure she pervades and permeates all things – she is a breath of the power of God…. a reflection of the eternal light, untarnished mirror of God’s active power and image of his goodness.” (Wis 7:24,26). Perhaps the author of the Book of Genesis did not get his facts wrong when he says that God created Light on the first Day of creation – before the sun, moon and stars.
St John in the Prologue to his Gospel, referring to the Logos which has similar meaning to Wisdom in the Old Testament, states: “what came into being in him (meaning the Word or Logos) was life and that life was the light of humankind, a light shines in darkness and darkness could not overpower it.” (Jn1:1) and he continues: “the Word was the real light that gives light to everyone. He was coming into the world.” (Jn 1:9). Jesus himself proclaims: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12).
The light to which the scientists refer is only a pale reflection of the Eternal Light – “inaccessible light” of which Paul speaks (1Tim 6:16) – a light, the reflection of which caused the Israelites to ask Moses to cover his face as they could not endure the brilliance. (Exodus 34:33). Isaiah speaks of an unending day (Is 30:26) while the Book of Revelation describes the heavenly Jerusalem as having “no need of sun or moon for light since it is lit by the radiant glory of God.” (Rev 21:23) People with near death experiences speak of going toward the light.
St John in his first letter states clearly: “God is light – there is no darkness in him at all” (1Jn 1:5). Later in the same letter he states: “God is love.” So this Light, which is pure energy as the scientists tell us, is also Love. This love is manifest in Bethlehem – in a little Baby we see the gentleness and love of God who comes among us in a manner which will not blind us, who are so accustomed to the darkness. Again daily in the Eucharist this light and energy are present in the form of Bread and is communicated to us so that we in our turn may become light for our world. (Mt 5:14).
As we sing our O Antiphon this evening we pray “O Rising Sun, you are the splendour of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus come.”
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