Be a Light Switch


(1 John 2:3-11; Psalm 96:1-6; Luke 2:22-35)

“The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (from 1 John 2:3-11)

What is your opinion: are things getting better in the world or are they getting worse? And in the Church, are things getting better or worse? Are we watching the darkness pass away, or do we feel it is encroaching upon us more than ever?

St. John upholds the message of Christmas for us and declares optimistically that “the true light is already shining,” and darkness is now losing the battle. Was John just being optimistic or was he declaring the truth?

He goes on to tell us that the true light-darkness battle is about what is going on in the human heart. He says: “Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.”

It sounds to me like John is telling us that though the light has come into the world and the darkness is being defeated, the light switch is in our hands. Our choices have the power to sustain and spread the light. As we watch the darkness of war and terrorism get a grip on our world, we expect that politicians will solve the problem. We wrongly think that the light switch is in their hands.

Let’s remember that each of us is God’s portable lantern in the world. Each time we extend love, the light of Christ brightens and the darkness scatters. And when we let our own hurts and prejudices release the forces of hatred, we diminish the presence of the light.

If we really want to watch the darkness scatter, let’s gather two or three people together in Jesus’ name. He promised that he would be in our midst, a light rising among us. It is in these contexts that we truly learn to love one another and any hatred that might remain in our hearts begins to dissolve.

Do we realize the “light power” that we have? Think of multitude of ways we can come together now. Two or three can gather in someone’s living room, in a coffee shop, on the Internet, or by phone. Let’s be more enterprising in releasing Christ’s light to our dark world. Let’s take on the mission of turning on the lights.

“Splendor and majesty go before him; praise and grandeur are in his sanctuary” (Ps 96:6)

About the Author

Author Bob Garvey lives in Louisville, Kentucky. He has a master’s degree in religious education and has been an active leader in the Catholic charismatic renewal for forty years. After retiring as a high school teacher, he began to write daily commentaries on the Church’s liturgical readings and other topics relevant to Catholic spirituality. He is married to Linda, has three daughters and four grandchildren.

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  1. It is a fact that left alone humans tend to go towards darkness. It is also a fact that, regardless of what people may think (in order to feel safe), God DOES direct the affairs of men albeit subtly.

    So, why (in your opinion of course do you think) the wait before God decides to firmly steer man away from the brink back to his good nature as He did with Job? In today’s reading, Rachel cries for her children. How many more innocents have to die (while their intentional and/or unintentional murderers live fruitful lives) for reasons seemingly unknown?

    You write we are God’s portable lanterns. Note that these lanterns have been around and about praying for peace on earth for centuries now. Yet it seems darkness keeps multiplying and finding inventive ways to flourish.

    Why must this remain so (in your opinion)?

  2. A .powerful question Brian. Add to the horror of abortion that of human trafficking and the prospering of the illegal drug industry.

    My question is, do Christians really believe in the power of our lanterns? Are we even using them? It is as though I bought $10,000 worth of fitness equipment, put in my basement, and then play around with it once a week for thirty minutes. Am I going to defeat my “overweight” problem.

    We Catholics have more tools than we can keep up with. How many of them are just collecting dust or used occasionally, and even then half-heartedly.

    Thank you for such inciteful comments and responding to my thoughts.

  3. Hey Brian and Bob,

    Brian, I too have a lot of questions that are difficult if not impossible to answer. And in a round about way, that is why I like reading “A Catholic Moment”. It’s a great source of information.

    Anyways, I always try to step back and start from the beginning, and today Bob does that when he asks what “…do Christians really believe in…?”. He is also asking you the same question indirectly. What other people do is pretty much out of your control and about the only way, at least that I can think of, you can influence God’s decision is through prayer. In other words, do you believe in prayer?

    Bob, keep up the great work, love your column.


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