The Light of Christ and Our Light

Matthew (5:13-20)

Last week we heard of old Simeon in the temple holding the infant Jesus in his arms and rejoicing that He was to the light to the Gentiles and the glory of “thy people” Israel. 

Our gospel reading today continues that double theme of light and glory of Israel and its past laws and prophetic tradition. 

Jesus says to His disciples:

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

17Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.

Jesus is the fulfilment of that past and He is the New light, and that light is to be seen in His followers too. 

I want to start with the second of those themes because Light in the disciples of Jesus is related to it.

17Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.

Jesus had a radical approach to the Laws of Moses and the various traditions that had flowed from it and sometimes He was accused by His Pharisee critics of going against the laws and traditions of Israel.  They had added lots of traditions of their own interpretation of the Old Laws and it was often these rather than the Law that Jesus seemed to set aside. 

We need to understand there were lots of Laws of Moses and later traditions to cover every aspect of the life of the people of Israel:

Laws of bodily functions, sickness and purification to be fit come into God’s presence

Laws related to the Sabbath and special festivals

Laws relating to family life and relations with others

Laws relating to crimes related punishments

Laws relating to treatment of slaves and “strangers” in the land

Laws relating to looking after the land and the livestock

Laws relating to offerings of thanksgiving 

Laws relating to “sin offerings” because of offences against God or neighbours 

The list goes on.. (you get the picture!) 

On another occasion answering questions Jesus simply quotes two laws that He says sum up what all the others laws of Moses are about…. 

The First- to Love God with your whole being

The Second – to love your neighbour so much that you desire as much good for them as you would want goodness done to you. 

This was what the whole of the Laws tried to do with its multiple regulations and obligations. 

In these two laws we see …

The vertical dimension- lTo direct our minds and lives to God who comes to us , 

and the horizontal dimension of our obligations of love and care to people and all the world around us. 

The gospels show that whole of Jesus own life and ministry displayed that double commitment 

and when He appeared to break laws He was often fulfilling the true essence of the Law in these two ways, even if not in exact detail for every law that existed that the Pharisees insisted on. 

Jesus also talks about the fact that the prophets of the past in their messages to Israel really point to Himself and in His life was fulfilling so many of God’s promises to Israel to be extended to the Gentile world as part of His mission to the whole world. 

His words and actions always raised up the poor and weak but troubled the proud and uncaring just like the prophets of old had.

Jesus was always the great Prophet and Finality of all the Prophets. 

In what Jesus said and did He is God’s Final Word to Israel and indeed also the Final and most important Word and revelation rest of the world, and no one can ever be greater than Him. 

Jesus is superior to very philosophy and religion. It was indeed all this that makes Jesus the Light for all the nations, to draw all things together in Himself and bring a universal unity with God. 

Our Light is His light in Us. 

Jesus also said 

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

What is this light we have that is to shown to all? 

Well it is not our own light that comes from our weak efforts of living a good life. What we have is the Light that may grow within us and expresses Jesus and Hs eternal light and glory. 

Our being Light givers is related to Him as the One True Light for the world.

It is when we are involved in our self offering to Him, we are fulling that First Command to Love God with our whole being. As we pay attention to that we become bound up in the following the Second Commandment of loving our neighbours.

And that love is not just for those close to us and who we live with and like, but extend to all people across cultures and every boundary humans selfishly make. 

In Jesus we come to be the Light because we are engaged in His way of being  Light and Hope and way for the world. 

There has been recent news of continued declines in church attendance should make us even more aware of our individual calling to be the Light of Christ for our less believing society, to be the living examples of how our society can be better, and confront the forces of selfish ideologies

We will be the Light of Christ whenever we show His unlimited loving and self sacrifice for the good. 

We will be His Light when we act in honesty, and charity , when we care for people near and far, and stand for their dignity and rights.

We will be His light when we confront the wrongs of society in His name and all call politicians and those in power to account for their policies and actions. 

We will be His lIght when we care about our world and all its people and creatures. 

And strangely when we are engaged in it, people seeing it may come to know Christ and God for themselves.