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Light to the Nations

“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine …”

The new decade has not started well.  While January 1st dawned filled with hope and promise as all New Year’s seem to, much has happened in the few short weeks since to bring hope crashing down.  Australia continues to burn; three days into the year, an Iranian general is killed on orders from an American president, leading to the death of 176 innocent people; Puerto Rico is rocked by an earthquake causing untold damage and disruption of essential services; and the Philippines is dealing with a rumbling volcano which could erupt at any time, having the potential to trigger a tsunami.  These are but a few tragic events that the world is facing during the first month of a new decade. 

On the political scene, the Government of Canada prepares to broaden access to Medical Assistance in Dying, presenting further challenging decisions for us.  And in our personal lives, the Bennett’s and many others who knew and loved him are mourning the sudden death of a dear friend.   The light does not seem to be extending far enough to reach us. 

Light is a funny thing.  Each night, as I go to bed, I open the drapes of my bedroom window, so that the light of dawn will wake me.  There are some mornings when that happens far sooner than I actually want to get up, but the alternative is that my room will be too dark for my body to know that it is time to rise. 

In today’s reading from Isaiah we hear, ‘I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’  While this refers to the “divinely mandated mission of Servant Israel” (Dennis Hamm, SJ), it is a theme echoed by our Church, as we too are called to share that light – that salvation – to the world.  We crave the light.  A friend noted that she was grateful that the Town of Riverview seems to be leaving their blue lit trees lit up – we miss the explosion of colour along the waterfront that has graced our little town since November.  While darkness holds a certain beauty, creating a particular ambiance, it is the flame of a candle, a fireplace or a well-placed light that completes that ambiance.

How, in all this chaos and pain, are we to live that light – be that light?  Well again, the news shows me: firefighters heading to Australia even during the Christmas season to help combat spreading wildfires; an outpouring of love and support for families and friends of the Canadian victims of the missile-downed plane; and a little human interest story shown on CBC’s National News this week about a family of 8 rescued by their cousin, and adopted by their aunt and uncle in Montreal after losing their parents in the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti 10 years ago, and what life looks like for them now. The headline read, “They would be proud of us.” Light flickers small sometimes and may be difficult to see.  Yet nonetheless, it exists.

Ellen Bennett

Office of Faith Development, Archdiocese of Moncton

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