The light of Faith is how the Church’s tradition speaks of the great gift brought by Jesus.

In John’s Gospel, Christ says of himself: ‘I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness’ (Jn 12:46).

Saint Paul uses the same image: ‘God who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts’ (2 Cor 4:6).

The pagan world, which hungered for light, had seen the growth of the cult of the sun god, Sol Invictus, invoked each day at sunrise. The sun however does not illumine all reality; its rays cannot penetrate to the shadow of death, the place where men’s eyes are closed to its light. ‘No one — Saint Justin Martyr writes — has ever been ready to die for his faith in the sun’.

Conscious of the immense horizon which their faith opened before them, Christians invoked Jesus as the true sun ‘whose rays bestow life’.

To Martha, weeping for the death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus said: ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ (Jn 11:40). Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets.

In today’s world faith has become associated with darkness and humanity has renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights which illumine the fleeting moment yet prove incapable of showing the way.

Yet in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.

There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim.

The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence.

A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God.

Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives.

Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realise that it contains a great promise of fulfilment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us.

Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time. On the one hand, it is a light coming from the past, the light of the foundational memory of the life of Jesus which revealed his perfectly trustworthy love, a love capable of triumphing over death.

Yet since Christ has risen and draws us beyond death, faith is also a light coming from the future and opening before us vast horizons which guide us beyond our isolated selves towards the breadth of communion.

We come to see that faith does not dwell in shadow and gloom; it is a light for our darkness… at a time when mankind is particularly in need of light.

 

Adapted from Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei, 29 June 2013 Paragraphs 1, 3 and 4

This article can be found in Mirror 0218.