Light and Gifts
Some years ago, in the Mendip caves, all the lights went out and left us in total darkness. Nobody could pick up any light within that darkness. So it was also an experience of blindness, for darkness and blindness become one and the same experience when there is no light. The organ of vision is rendered useless. The fear and horror of everyone’s life is that they might be plunged into darkness and blindness, physical, mental or spiritual. For deep within every human soul is a yearning for light.
In that cave there were two ways in which I could allow light to guide me through the darkness. First, by providing my own light with a torch. This light would have been in my control and therefore limited by my own inadequate knowledge of the caves and darkness. Furthermore, I would have pointed it only into the places where I wanted it to shine and followed it only into the places where I wanted it to go. A second way was to have my path lit up by a light that was provided and beyond my control. Such light would lead me by lighting up for me that total darkness, but it would also give me total vision. This light would invite my submission and total response. Unconditional response to this light was the secret, the clue to find my way through the darkness.
Epiphany is about light. The Magi followed the star and submitted themselves to the guidance of light. These astrologers taught that the Lord of the universe is eternal light and that the soul of man needs light. The soul needs a light external to itself as well as a light within the soul. It needs the everlasting light from outside itself; otherwise the soul itself is in darkness.
The magi submitted to that light and what they found was a king in the form of a child, a King not of man’s making but of God’s making. The secret of his Kingship was in his obedience, not to his own will, but to the will of him who sent him. His commands are the eternal laws of humanity to which he submitted. This is the ‘light of men’. Only by obedience to these laws can we find fulfilling life, that for which God made us.
Following that Light
Follow that light, that is beyond your own control and you will never walk in darkness or blindness. We have all known Christian people in our parish communities who have always followed that light. Such people have embraced ‘the light which is the life of men’, it became their guiding star and it never let them down because they never deserted him. His Church was their life for which they sacrificed themselves in unstinting service and absolute loyalty. Their faith was no passing sentimental religion. It was embedded in the reality of a sacramental life. For the Light they followed was the Word they obeyed and their earthly pilgrimage was sustained by the angel’s food of Eucharistic Bread that touched every part of their lives. Like the three kings they brought their gifts and made them available to the King of Kings and sometimes their gifts were unusual like the little old lady who spent many hours making and selling toffee cakes and raised £1,000 for church funds or the lady who presented Christ with £500 raised from making marmalade. This was the gold, frankincense and myrrh of their lives.