Sunday, January 27, 2008  The Church as the Light of Our World: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.   The Lord is my Light and my salvation, whom shall I fear.

Homily, January 27, 2008

Today the Holy Word of God shows Our Lord beginning His active public ministry. And He does that by calling together a handful of men He would call Apostles. In other words, Our Lord is starting the Church. The One that is One; The One that is Holy; the One that is Catholic/Universal; the One that is Apostolic.

He did that because he had had come to fulfill Prophet Isiah's prophecy: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”

He was the light of the world waiting to shine.  “I have fire to ignite,” He said. “Oh! How I burn and wish it were ablaze already.”

He did that because there was darkness hovering over the world. The world was almost back to square one, when in the beginning, the world was formless, and darkness covered the earth. To begin creating, God had to first flip the switch and say, “Let there be light. Let there be two luminaries in the firmament of heaven: one to govern the day, another the night.”

So, the Holy Word of God wants to show that in Our Lord, God started afresh. He re-created the world in Christ, Our Lord. Christ is the luminary in the firmament of heaven for the earth.

When Our Lord came, the world was enveloped in much darkness. Leadership in the civil as well as religious society left a lot to be desired. It was the law of the jungle; survival of the fittest; the winner takes all; dog-eat-dog. It was not called the “Dark Ages” for no reason. Civility was non-existent. It was not even known. People’s minds never even conceived of respect for human life concept.

Accession to the throne of the Emperor Caesar was by the sword, betrayal and assassinations. No one got out of that office of Caesar alive. And the one on the throne maintained their rule by “lording it over his subjects”, domination and fear.

To this world of domination, repression and fear, Our Lord brought the light of rule by love, service and freedom. He dispelled this darkness and taught that “whoever was the greatest among them must be the servant of all.”

  • Before Our Lord, children were less than human. They were hush-hushed, to be seen but not heard. The Lord changed that and ranked children higher than most. “Let the children come to me.” “The Kingdom of heaven is for the likes of them.” “Lord you revealed these truths to the little children.”
  • Before Our Lord, women were low class. Our Lord involved and engaged them in his ministries; made them the last ones to witness his death and the first ones to witness his resurrection. “The last will be first,” in his kingdom.
  • Before the Light of the Lord came, the darkness of revenge ruled the world. He dispelled it with the rule of forgiveness, reconciliation, and love for one’s enemies. The power hungry Apostles, to the vengeful sons of thunder (James and John), he restrained and taught them self-control, to put their passions in check, and not let their passions get the best of them.
  • Before the Light of Christ, the darkness of greed where the winner-takes-all, hovered over the earth. He shed the light of sharing the five loaves and two fish with the 5,000, thus urging people to care for one another.
  • Before the Light of the Lord, you name it: The tax collectors, the sinners, the lepers, the sick were the untouchables, ostracized, and shunned. The Lord re-befriended them and integrated them into the mainstream. He ate with them. “Zacchaeus, come down because I must eat at you house tonight.” He even took one of them, Matthew, to be one of his Apostles. He touched lepers. He cured the sick. Sinners like Mary Magdalen and the repentant thief He forgave and absolved.

THE NECESSITY OF THE MAGISTERIUM

Our Lord appointed the 12 Apostles precisely to have them perpetuate this legacy of the light of Christ. He wanted this Legacy of Light to survive him beyond his days on earth.
He knew that left to its own devices, the world can only drown in its own darknesses.

He doesn’t call these Apostles “fishers of men” for no reason. Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The world was and still is swimming in the pool of self-destruction. It had to be fished out with the net of the Church, pulled by the Apostles, otherwise it will keep on drowning in its own misery indefinitely.

I refer to the Second Reading, the Church of Corinth divisions. You see how even a particular church, left to its own devices, without the Apostles with their teaching mandate, or without the Apostles’ successors, how easy it is to slide down a slippery slope, into schism. The Apostle Paul had to get in there and correct them, “Is Christ Divided?”

Suppose the Apostle Paul or his successor were not there to correct such divisions within the Body of Christ. Who could bring the flock back to the fold?

Without the Apostles or their successors, such a church is left to its own devices, and doomed to break apart like sheep without a shepherd. Our human egos can get into the way of God. We start off alright, but drift off to pursue our own selfish interests. The next thing you know there is a rivalry leading to split. Look what happened as soon as Luther and King Henry became disobedient to the teaching authority of the Apostles' successors. The rate of church splitting and splintering within the last 500 years is 6 churches breaking off every single year.  6,000 mini-churches have developed within the last five centuries. The Catholic Church only broke only once or twice with that same period.

There you see now the wisdom of the Catholic Church and the folly of rejecting the discipline of the Apostles and their successor. Christ said to the Apostles, “I will make you fishers of men.” People rebelliously say, “No, we will fish ourselves. Away with those Apostles or their successors. We know the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” That is the darkness that is hovering over the followers of Christ in the modern day and age. The Lord spoke well in reference to the Pharisees who rejected his light, by calling them, the blind leading the blind. I wish our brother churches could wake up to this truth that left to their own devices, there is not end to the current trend of divisiveness. Unity is and can only be found in the One, unified, Apostolic, and Catholic Church, that is still faithful to the teaching of the Apostles and their successors.

ATHEISTS

Another darkness is that propagated by the atheists. Contrary to their claim, it is not the atheists who enlightened the world. They never built nor ran schools or hospitals. On the contrary, they are responsible for the darkness of the world. Stalin massacred his own citizens with impunity. Family Planning continues his legacy. Hollywood machinery is directed by people who say nothing about God. Are we going to follow their darkness portrayed as the light of progress?

NOAH

Without the light of Noah, could the animals have got into the Ark or left to their own devices would have drowned? Humans, left to their own devices, nothing good can come out of them.

THE KEY OF REPENTANCE

The key is to all these problems is to repent. “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” To repent means to acknowledge our darkness, and to open ourselves to the Light of Christ.

St. Paul on the Road to Damascus repented and opened his heart to Christ’s light. “Sir, what must I do?” Then he became the light of his world, and so could shepherd and correct the Church of Corinth with the light of Christ.

If only churches could repent, and this is what we should pray hard and earnestly for, the repentance of churches to the leadership of the Apostles of the Church of Our Lord. These divisions are products of our sinfulness, not of Christ’s heart. The devil who soured the hearts of Adam and Even in the garden of Eden against God has, once again scored big in souring our sister churches against the Magisterium of the Church founded by Jesus Christ. They have given in to his deceptions and wiles.

The authority of the Church in matters of faith and morals are undermined with regards to abortion and stem cell research. Darkness still hovers over the earth.

May God bless you.

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