Sorry for the delay in posting this. I was feeling a bit under the weather this past weekend….reyanna
•Wisdom 9: 13-18 + Philemon 9 – 17 + Luke 14: 25-33•
Weekly Scripture Readings:23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
In mid-July, choirs from around the world performed in Caras Park. Among them a youth choir from Hong Kong sang, “This Little Light of Mine.” Remember the words? — “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”
In order to appreciate gospel texts such as the one proclaimed here today, it is absolutely necessary to understand the meaning and purpose of hyperbolic forms of speech. Hyperbolic statements exaggerate an idea for the sake of emphasis. They are not to be understood literally.
With that in mind, let’s consider our gospel text. As Jesus and his companions continue their journey to Jerusalem, Luke tells us that “large crowds” joined them. That simple detail — “large crowds” joined them” is like a flag waving in the wind – hyperbole! We know how celebrities attract crowds of followers. As Jesus and his companions journeyed to Jerusalem, he was like a celebrity, a light shining in the dark attracting a crowd. And so it has been ever since.
However not all of those attracted to him allow the Christ light to shine through them! “Jesus turned to the great crowds traveling with him and taught them.” He neither proclaims nor promises “cheap grace” nor a safe and secure religiosity. He employed hyperbole to emphasize that his message and work are important and serious. Choosing to follow him is a radical choice. It requires great spiritual courage to accept and integrate his teachings and values into one’s life. Because you do so, the words of that song are so true about you – “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine! Let it shine, let is shine, let it shine!”
I think it is safe to presume that in writing his gospel, Luke included this text because his early Christian community was faced with the same sort of situation facing us today. So many of our fellow citizens claim to be “Christians.” Among them are racists and bigots; those whose first response to violence is violence; those who embrace the values of the NRA more than those of the gospel; and those who advocate upgrading our nuclear warheads and delivery systems.
“Large crowds” are attracted to Jesus today– too many claiming to be Christian without Christ, without the gospel! Luke’s Jesus taught the large crowds” with hyperbolic statements. “Hate family members … and even your own life!” “Carry the cross.” “Give up everything you have.” Such statements are not meant literally. Luke’s Jesus is saying “do not let any person or any thing in the world dim or extinguish the light of Christ” in you. “Let it shine, let it shine!!”
As a wise teacher Luke’s Jesus illustrates those hyperbolic statements with two examples: “a contractor planning to build a tower,” and “a king about to go to war.” The point of these examples is this. Be wise. Seriously consider the implications of following Jesus. Evaluate your ability to bear the light of Christ into the world. Then renew your decision to continue doing so.
We live in an age of unprecedented socio-cultural change. “A titanic change in our western civilization” is happening. The results are many. Today few of our peers recognize a transcendent God. Few have heard of or understand the Christ Mystery. Few have any idea of what it means to be a human being or what makes life worth living. The “Light of Christ” has dimmed or even been extinguished. The negative consequences of this socio-cultural change are obvious: fear, violence and social destabilization.
Even so, our culture hungers for the message of Christ – yearns for guidance from the light of Christ. We see that expressed in the world’s response to Francis of Rome as he goes about living: “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine! Let it shine…..” Never underestimate the influence of your life! Continue to embrace and integrate the teachings and values of Christ! The fear, violence and social destabilization produced by the ”titanic change” that is occurring “in our western civilization” will be lessened when the Christ light within us becomes more obvious. “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine! Let it shine, let is shine, let it shine!”