My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
How beautiful are these words from St. Paul to the Ephesians as we journey with Christ this Lenten season. To see the truths in revelation, we need light. Not even the keenest eyes can see clearly in the dark. The grace of God is our source of light. If we live in the light, God’s goodness will be present.
Think of all the ways that we use light. We turn on a light so that we are able to find something lost. The light of the computer screen or mobile phone helps us to see images. Shining a light on something can also show difficulties and flaws, can’t it? When you turn on a light, you may notice dust on the furniture or a piece of misplaced food on the floor. The dawn gives rise to a new day. It offers us renewal. Light helps us to see clearly.
When we think of light, we often turn our heads upward, toward the heavens. As we profess our faith during the Apostles’ Creed, we pray, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” The communion of saints is the Church (CCC 946). As our Holy Father reminds us, the communion of saints does not mean that the Church is reserved for the perfect. “No,” Pope Francis says, “it means that it is the community of saved sinners. We are all saved sinners . … Our holiness is the fruit of God’s love manifested in Christ, who sanctifies us by loving us in our misery and saving us from it.” We are bound to each other in communion … a congregation of saints.
This is what St. Paul is trying to explain to the Ephesians and now to us. We can find ourselves rifled with persecution and disbelief, with mockery or bullying, with despair or loneliness. But we have each other to be the light of Christ, to infuse every moment with holiness. We are called to fill the spiritual and physical needs of each other. We set aside our own desires to be present for others. Pope Francis says, “We are bound reciprocally and in a profound way and this bond is so strong that it cannot be broken even by death. The communion of saints holds the community of believers on earth and in heaven.”
During the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent, more than 400 women and men and families boldly proclaimed their willingness to join the communion of saints, to become Catholic. These 400 women and men, chosen by God, chosen for God, will share in our living faith for the first time at the Easter Vigil. We pray with gratitude for their courage, their endurance, their hope, their example to be the light of Christ.
In the Rite of Election, the bishop and the entire Church recognizes the good work that God has done in the lives of our catechumens. From the day of their election in Christ until they celebrate the Easter Sacraments, the catechumens are called the “Elect of God.” The journey of our catechumens (adults who are not baptized) becomes even more intense as they continue to strive to make the mind of Christ their own.
We are called to live as children of light. The families, sponsors and teachers of the catechumens are lights of the world. How does your daily living change if you are a light? Do you smile and greet people when you enter a room? Do you share your food with others who may not have as much? Do you volunteer and participate in parish ministries? Do you avail yourself to lectures about God? Do you offer praise and thanksgiving before meals, even when at restaurants? Is your every moment a prayer to God? Do you participate in the celebration of Mass each week? Are you being fed by the Eucharist? What one thing can you do differently each day to draw God’s light into wherever you are? The season of Lent naturally calls us in this introspection. May we live what is pleasing to the Lord. May we be God’s light.