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When a Lamp Just Isn’t Enough

First Reading: Isaiah 56:1-3A, 6-8

Thus says the LORD:
Observe what is right, do what is just;
for my salvation is about to come,
my justice, about to be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
the son of man who holds to it;
Who keeps the sabbath free from profanation,
and his hand from any evildoing.
Let not the foreigner say,
when he would join himself to the LORD,
“The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.”

The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
ministering to him,
Loving the name of the LORD,
and becoming his servants–
All who keep the sabbath free from profanation
and hold to my covenant,
Them I will bring to my holy mountain
and make joyful in my house of prayer;
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be acceptable on my altar,
For my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.
Thus says the Lord GOD,
who gathers the dispersed of Israel:
Others will I gather to him
besides those already gathered.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 7-8

R. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
The earth has yielded its fruits;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!

Gospel: John 5:33-36

Jesus said to the Jews:
“You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept testimony from a human being,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
John was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John’s.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.”

NAB

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These days, I look out the window in the evenings and have to check the clock—it feels so much later than it is. As the last bits of sunlight are gobbled up by shadow, my heart sinks.

How long, O Lord?

How many more minutes will darkness consume before the balance shifts, before daylight fights its way back to take a bigger slice of the twenty-four hour pie? Why must minutes spent in the dark drag on forever?

These weeks can feel like the darkest of the year in more ways than one. When the world around us seems filled with conflict and anger and bad news on every channel and on every street corner, it sometimes feels impossible to find any light at all.

The people living when Jesus was born might have felt this way, too. Theirs was a time of political unrest, oppression, and darkness. When Saint John the Baptist came to testify to Jesus’ coming, his words of prophecy glowed against the dark backdrop like a lamp, casting light into the world and pushing back the shadows a bit. People crowded around to be near that light, longing for a little relief from the ever-present darkness.

Still, it wasn’t enough . . . just like putting out strand after strand of twinkling lights isn’t enough to push back the darkness now.

The world just needed Jesus.

No little lamp is enough to illuminate the darkness we now face. What we need now is still the same Light of the World. That same, One, True Light is the only one who can fix this darkness for us. We’re not so different from the people of Jesus’ time. Injustice and oppression move in our shadows, too. We still fear the dark. We still feel alone. We still need hope, and the only one who can give it to us is Jesus.

The poet Wendell Berry said, “It gets darker and darker and darker, and then Jesus is born.”

Take heart. Keep faith. He’s coming.

Sometimes a lamp isn’t enough to fix the darkness . . . but it can help us push it back a little until Jesus gets here. Think of a way this week that you can be a lamp in the darkness, holding out the light until Jesus comes.

What can you do to help lighten the shadows in someone else’s life?

Abbey Dupuy writes her life as a homeschooling mama of four while relying on coffee and grace. You can find out more about her here.

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