“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:4-5 NRSV).
Today’s Scripture basis is taken from the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday in Lent. This is the story of Jesus healing a blind man by spitting in the dirt and making mud to put over his eyes. When the man born blind washes away the mud he can see. Before Jesus begins the work of healing, Jesus tells us what He is doing. He is doing the works of His Father, who is also our Father (see the Lord’s Prayer), and telling us to do those works while it is day. Jesus proclaims Himself as the “light of the world” as long as He is in the world. If I may dare to paraphrase Jesus, “I am here to do the works of my Father who sent me. So long as I am here, I am the light in the midst of the darkness. I will make this blind man see.”
Saint Benedict said something similar, only he was borrowing and adapting the words from John 12:35 in the Prologue of The Rule. “Run [not walk] while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you.”
I wonder how different our jobs, our relationships and other daily ordinary things would be if we spent some time in contemplative prayer with the words “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Or, how might we see our daily ordinariness as something so much more “we must do the works of the one who gave them to us, while we are given the opportunity to do them”?
Our defeat in contemplative prayer and what makes the mystical experience almost impossible is we have somehow convinced ourselves it is is all about us. Contemplative prayer and mysticism is a work of God’s grace. The works we are given to do as God’s light to the world is also a product of God’s graciousness. We are not an island unto ourselves. As contemplatives we are always searching for union with God knowing that it is God who initiated the desire for the search within us, because God has already found us. God’s grace that gives us the work of being that light for the world; is drawing us closer to God through the Holy Spirit “that has been given to us.” It is God who begins the work and who brings it to its conclusion. As this light becomes more visible in us, others see the light of God in and through us.
“We pray. Lord, that everything we do may be prompted by your inspiration, so that every prayer and work of ours may begin from you, and be brought by you to completion.” Amen. (Prayer based on the Prologue of St. Benedict’s Rule. Saint Benedict’s Prayer Book for Beginners. p.113).
What work are you doing to be God’s light in the world?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB