Light of the Nations

There were two “official” occasions when Jesus appeared before key institutions of Israel. One was on the last day of his life when he was arraigned before Caiaphas and the whole Sanhedrin which represented the highest authority for the Jews. He was asked formally who he really was and when he told them they condemned him to death.

The other occasion was 40 days after his birth when he was presented in the temple by his parents and was received into the arms of Simeon, a representative of the best of the tradition that stretched back to Abraham, with joy as the “glory of Israel” and the “light of the nations.”

These two responses – by Caiaphas and Simeon – represent the two stances towards Jesus taken by people through the ages. With Jesus you either welcome him or you reject him. We welcome him in all sorts of ways. Anyone who is moved by compassion to serve others is automatically welcoming Jesus whether they acknowledge him or not (Matt 25:31-46). I often think of this when I see the efforts of journalists going to dangerous places to alert us about what is happening, as in the Central African Republic.

The information they provide is the first step in finding a solution to the problems. Or we can think of peacemakers who are prepared to sit for hours with both sides of a conflict to search for common ground as a basis for peace, as in the talks on Syria. They may not be baptised. They may not go to church. But they are real followers of the Jesus who knelt before his disciples and washed their feet. It seems the only qualification is that we serve one another.

How desperately sad, then, are those others who use their free will and energy to block the noble plans of the international community to make the world a better place. They shamelessly traffic human beings or promote drugs that ruin the lives of young people or plunder the world’s resources without a thought for the sustainability of the planet.

Poor Caiaphas! He gets the blame, as does Cain, for representing all those who “prefer the darkness” (John 3:19). But if, with Simeon, we welcome the light it means we strive each day to bring that light into the lives of people. There are so many – parents, teachers, civil servants, professionals and so many others – who do just this. The light is shining in the world and “the darkness cannot overpower it” (John 1:5).

Post published in: Faith

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *