Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: January 19, 2020
How many lumens do you shine?
When we go to look for a light at Home Depot, the box tells us how many lumens of energy the light emits – a typical light around 1000-2000 lumens and one that is brighter over 5000 lumens.
“Lumens” is a fancy name for candlepower as they are calculated by a candle giving off one square foot of light from one foot away.
So how many lumens, is how many candles of light are emitted from your spiritual light source.
Our spiritual light source is the power of the Holy Spirit we received at our baptisms and throughout our lives.
At our baptisms we receive our baptismal candle which is lit from the Easter candle and we are told “this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly” and to “keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts”!
The image of light is so powerful in our faith:
- The first thing God created was light – let there be Light!
- Isaiah tells us in the first reading today that God will make him and us a “light to the nations”
- In the book of James, we hear “light has come into the world”
- Jesus is the “light of the world”
- And in Romans, “let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light”
This theme of light and showing our light to the world is the key to today’s readings.
In the first reading we hear Isaiah speaking in a spirit of thanksgiving. He is thanking God for all he has done through him.
God says – “you are my servant…through whom I show my glory”. This is key as it shows that God shines through us – the power and strength of the Holy Spirit that we have been given in grace is what we are to show to the world. These are to be our lumens that shine forth!
Isaiah was told that he was “formed as a servant from the womb”, just as each one of us is formed with unique gifts and talents that only our own candles will have.
In the psalm we have sung – “Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.” This phrasing is important because it shows us that when we shine our lives out for those to see – it only works if we are doing His will and not our own!
We shine forth to show God’s love and mercy and forgiveness to all those around us, not for the spotlight to be shining on ourselves.
The psalm also teaches us that we are to have “ears open to obedience” and “God’s law in our hearts”.
Always we are called to have God’s message as the focus and source of our candlelight!
In the second reading which is the first 3 lines of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we hear two key messages: Paul is “called to be an apostle by the will of God” and we are “called to be holy”
Both of these are important as we see that even the most famous preacher of the gospel, St. Paul, doesn’t focus on himself – he was called by the will of God.
The beautiful message today is that we are called by the same will of God and we are empowered to be holy by the same gift of the Holy Spirit that Paul was.
Paul may have been knocked down by the light of Christ on the road to Damascus, but we receive the exact same light of Christ at our own baptisms! There is only one Holy Spirit who through the centuries has carried God’s message to each and every one of us.
When Paul says, “Grace and peace to you”, it echoes what we hear at the beginning of each mass – “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”
The grace and the peace are the same as 2000 years ago, with the same source in the power of the Holy Spirit.
And then we hear in the gospel today this beautiful story of John the Baptist and Christ at the Jordan just after Christ’s baptism.
John points his own disciples towards Christ and says, “Behold the Lamb of God”. His supporters would have known the Old Testament reference he was making to the “gentle lamb led to the slaughter” that was prophesized by Jeremiah and Isaiah.
They would have known that he was telling them this is the Messiah who would redeem the Jewish nation by his sacrifice and would be a conquering lamb like king David.
John knows his role, he is not the Messiah, he says “this is the reason I came – that he might be made known”.
John knows his calling is based on his unique gifts and this should cause us to pause and think of the gifts that God has given to us individually. What is the talent that I have that is to shine forth so that people can see my connection to Christ?
The question we have is how much light is shining out from our Spirit, and if we have grown dim or dull over time, how do we now increase our lumens?
There are 2 ways to do this:
- We have to make sure we are connected to the power – the light bulb doesn’t work if it isn’t connected! This means that we have to make sure our prayer life is strong and that we receive the “medicine” of the Eucharist to give us strength.
- We have to make sure that our lights are not covered in dust and dirt, etc. It is amazing isn’t it that dust accumulates so slowly over time, but if you look after a while you can wipe off the layer of white with your finger. Sin is the same, it creeps slowly into our lives unannounced, but we have power through reconciliation to wipe the bulb clean!
So then what kind of light are we shining forth? If the source is the Holy Spirit, then the candle power that shines forth are the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
We shine forth kindness, gentleness, peace, goodness, self-control, faithfulness, patience, joy and of course love.
The more we see these fruits in action in our lives, the more we know our light is shining brightly.
We hear in the bible “No one lights a lamp to put it under the tub – they put it on a lampstand where it shines for everyone in the house.” You are that lamp, shining brightly for all to see!
So, this week ask yourself this one question when you pray “How many lumens am I?”