While staying in a remote rural hermitage in western Ireland, there happened to be one day and night that was totally clear — a rare event in Ireland. There had not been a cloud in the sky for 24 hours. Looking out of my window, after the sun had set, I was startled to see lights in the sky that I’d never seen before. In my nightgown, I walked outside into the pitch darkness and quickly became filled with awe and fear.
I had never seen so many stars in the sky. It seemed as if I could touch them and that they were reaching down to embrace me. There were large, luminescent globes and tiny sparkling orbs. They shone in iridescent yellows, pinks, blues, and multiple grades of white. At that moment, I knew I was glimpsing God.
This was the sky that Abraham would have known when God told him that his descendants would be “as numerous as the stars in the sky.”
This was the sky that Jesus would have seen when He went out into the desert.
I knew that there was nothing that humans could make that could compare with the His creation. I prayed a Rosary out there in His glorious light-filled dark, and fell in love with Him all over again.
The memory of that night has stayed with me. Sadly, I’ve never been able to see such a sky again. Due to the artificial light of our cities and suburbs, most of us are never able to see more than a few stars at night. It’s there — past the manmade lights which distract us from His true light. But we need to go away to a quiet, remote place in order to find it. We need to want to see it.
Preferring False Light
Sadly, we have become satisfied with the world’s poor imitation of His light. The world’s light is safe, controllable, predictable, and self-serving. We like the reflection we see in the world’s light — it’s not too glaring nor does it spotlight our flaws. And if it does, we can turn it down so much that we have to squint and hurt our vision to see things the way we want to see them. We have even claimed that our light is equal or superior to His, without ever knowing or wanting to know the truth.
I look back on my own life and see how I have preferred my own false light to that of His — every time I chose fake friendships based upon popularity, every time I ate garbage food or drank to excess to feel better; every time I lied to others and myself to be someone I wanted to be; every time I ignored or denied Him in thoughts, words, or actions.
All of this came to light (pun intended) when I saw a quote by Chris Stefanick on his Instagram: “Our Lord hung out with prostitutes … but He never raised a glass to prostitution.”
Jesus loved us with a true love that we are commanded to follow. We must love others — and ourselves — the way that He loved us. Not with preening, popularity-seeking pseudo-love. Not with a dopey, doormat adoration. Not with conditional, condescending affectation.
Seeing with His Light
Sinners all, Jesus asks us to love other sinners, not by helping them to promote their sin, but by loving the person we see with His light beyond the sin, and reflecting that person who God made in our eyes of love.
To paraphrase another of Chris’s quotes: Jesus commands that we love people who reject Church teaching while supporting that teaching ourselves.
It’s a hard thing to do. But if we choose to find His light, bask in it, and reflect it back to the world in which we live, it becomes easier to see the way.
Jesus, Light of the World, help us to see the truth. Amen.