TUESDAY HOMILY: The Second First Thing
GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) You may have heard of the Christian college student who had to attend the class of an aggressively atheistic professor. The professor attacked the idea of God because he said an all good and all powerful God should be able to obliterate evil. If he was good he would want to get rid of evil, and if he was all powerful he would be able to, and since he did not he could not be either all good or all powerful.
The believer asked the professor which was more powerful--light or darkness. The professor explained that it was a nonsensical question since there was really no such thing as darkness. Instead darkness, although it felt real, was really only the absence of light. Likewise, cold was simply the absence of heat.
The believer said that it was similarly nonsensical to suggest that God's goodness and Evil were opposites. Instead evil was either the absence of goodness or goodness distorted and deformed in some way.
Light is therefore one of the "first things" on which all other things depend. The first week of Advent we considered God--the first of the "First Things". The second "First Thing" to consider for this second week of Advent is Light.
The first thing God created was Light. Critics of the Catholic faith like to scoff and say, "Look at that silly creation story! God created light on the first day, but he didn't create the sun, moon and stars until the fourth day! How dumb is that?"
Not dumb. Pretty smart. Those who told the creation stories were not writing a scientific treatise. They were more concerned with the meaning of God's act of creation than recording a historical or scientific account of the beginning of the world.
God created Light first because light itself is greater than the sun, moon and stars which create or reflect the light. That is to say, light exists beyond the physical sources of light. This truth is reflected in the final book of the Bible--Revelation. There we have a vision of heaven where we are told that there is neither sun, nor moon for the Lamb--Christ himself is the Light.
Jesus understands his own destiny and identity when he says, "I am the Light of the World." The church teaches that God the Son--the second person of the Holy Trinity--was present at the foundation of the world. The world was created not just by God the Father, but by the Son and by the Holy Spirit. This is why, in that opening passage of the Book of Genesis it says that God created the heavens and earth and the Spirit was moving over the face of the waters and God said, "Let there be Light."
The creative Word of God brings Light into the world, and later John the Evangelist says, "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory--or "his radiance."
Advent is a particular celebration of Light. We light the Advent candles and we welcome the coming of the Light of Christ into the world on Christmas night. The theme of darkness overcoming the light is echoed in the Easter liturgy, when the Pascal candle is brought into the darkened church, and then when we are baptized we receive that same light.
The light of Christ, which radiates throughout our life and our liturgy is the same light that was at the beginning--the Light of the World and the light of the heavenly kingdom--Christ Jesus the Lord.
Fr Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. His latest book is Catholicism Pure and Simple. Visit his blog called Standing on My Head and go to his website to browse his books and make contact.
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