Lenten Reflection: by A Catholic Moment Reader, Donald E. Purcell

The Spiritual Significance of God’s Light and Darkness


In New Mexico, my birthplace, the sunlight is exceptionally bright at least 280 days each year.  On many days sunrise and sunset are frequently spectacular.  At night, in a cloudless sky, stars twinkle in a brilliant manner and the moon’s light can fill the night.  In short, the daily cycles of light and darkness in New Mexico typically have a profound effect on a person’s attention and development.  Little do we know the cycles of light and darkness are the source of existence for every form of life in the World.  This commentary is intended as a Lenten reflection on the Spiritual Significance of God’s Light and Darkness in our lives.

In the Beginning

In the beginning, only the Spiritual Light of God existed.  For reasons known only to God, he decided to share his Spiritual Light and dispel the darkness by creating the Universe, the Heavens, and the Human race.  The story of how and why God created our World and the

Human race is set forth in scripture from Genesis to Revelation.  In scripture, there are 301 references to God’s Spiritual Light, set forth in 263 verses, for example:

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.  Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light.  God saw how good the light was.  God then separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Thus evening came, and morning followed—the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)

My favorite reference to the “Light of God” comes from the Gospel of John:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.  What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  A man named John was sent from God.  He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:1-9, emphasis added)

Since creation began, humanity has existed on two fundamental levels, the physical level and the spiritual level.  This commentary is intended to offer a reflection on the spiritual development of humanity, in particular, with respect to the significant influence of God’s Light.

The Spiritual Significance of God’s Light is revealed throughout scripture, in particular, the story of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ by his Mother Mary, the divine nature of Christ as the only Son of God, his Ministry, Crucifixion and Resurrection.  Following predictions of the Prophets, the story of Jesus Christ begins with the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, a young woman, on March 25 that she will be the Mother of God in the world.  The Spiritual Significance of God’s Light is also revealed in comments and actions by all the Saints, clergy and ordinary people who have attempted to imitate the life of Christ to the best of their ability, in particular, by those who have lived virtually all of their lives in service to others and personal sacrifice.

Following Mary’s acceptance of the Annunciation, many believe Mary’s answer changed the course of human events and has significantly enhanced the existence of humanity for the past 2,017 years.  Many also believe Mary is the Spiritual Mother of All Catholics, other Christians, and indeed, all people of Faith.  If Mary had answered the Archangel Gabriel with any answer other than yes to the Will of God, I believe the human race would not have survived the past 2,017 years.

Many have often wondered why God chose his only Son to become incarnate and the Light of humanity as a member of the human race approximately 2017 years ago.  The true answer, of course, is surrounded by profound mystery, however, it is possible the timing of God’s decision was based on God’s conclusion that considerable darkness, existing in the World at that time, surrounded the human race almost completely, and it was necessary to create an extremely bright Spiritual Light that offered a significant path for humanity to pursue and amend the manner in which people were living.  Current conditions in our World pose the question – what does God think of the condition of humanity at this moment in time?

The Spiritual Significance of God’s Light poses three questions to every Christian and person of Faith:

  1. To what extent have you devoted your life to bring the Light of God into the world?
  2. Who are the people that have helped you see the Light of God in your life?
  3. What events in your life have helped you leave darkness behind to live in the Light of God?

One of the best answers to these questions was posted by Laura Kazlas to the website A Catholic Moment on February 5, 2017, “Your Light Shall Break Forth Like the Dawn.”  Set forth below is an excerpt from her reflection:

There is a hymn that I love that we sing at mass and at funerals sometimes, called “On Eagles Wings”.   I pray the words of this hymn will be true for me at the end of my life, a lifetime that I hope will have been spent in loving service to others.  The lyrics describe the first reading for mass very beautifully though:  “Your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard….then light shall rise for you in the darkness and the gloom shall become for you like midday.”

Christ is the light of humanity; and it is, accordingly, the heart- felt desire of this sacred Council, being gathered together in the Holy Spirit, that by proclaiming his Gospel to every creature (cf. Mk. 16:15), it may bring to all men that light of Christ which shines out visibly from the Church. Since the Church, in Christ, is in the nature of sacrament–a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men–she here purposes, for the benefit of the faithful and of the whole world, to set forth, as clearly as possible, and in the tradition laid down by earlier Councils, her own nature and universal mission. The condition of the modern world lends greater urgency to this duty of the Church; for, while men of the present day are drawn ever more closely together by social, technical and cultural bonds, it still remains for them to achieve full unity in Christ.” (LUMEN GENTIUM, CHAPTER 1, paragraph 1, THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, November 1964; emphasis added)  It is noteworthy that 91 references to the word “Light” appear in the 12 documents published by the Vatican II Council.


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