The Epistle Reading this Sunday helps to set the stage for the current season of nourishment and growth known as Trinity Season (a.k.a., Pentecost, or Ordinary Time). It is during this time that we transition away from the drama of our rehearsal of the earthly ministry of Christ and intentionally consider how we will change our lives to conform to His image and example. In Advent we anticipated His coming, both in the incarnation and His promise to return; we then entered into a celebration, first of the incarnation itself at Christmas and then of the reality of the light of Christ entering the world at Epiphany. We continued in Lent to contemplate our weakness and sinfulness in comparison to His strength and righteousness, thereby being reminded of the necessity of Christ's loving sacrifice to break the cycle of violent and bloody sacrifice. We mourned the pain of the passion through Holy Week, marveled at the work of Christ on the cross as He said "Father forgive them," and celebrated the resurrection and Christ's victory over death. Then, most recently, we remembered the promise of Christ, at His ascension, that He would not leave us without a Helper, whose entrance into the world we rejoiced in during the Feast of Pentecost.
We have spent these past six months experiencing and living out the drama of our Triune God's ministry on earth, as established through the Son's entrance into the world in the incarnation. We will now spend the next six months seeking to grow in our lives as we consider and reflect upon the teaching and example of Jesus.
It is with this focus in mind that we consider the Epistle reading for this Sunday. St. Paul reminds us that God ordained the Light to shine out of the darkness. St. John teaches that the, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5) The light of Christ was in the darkness of the world, and the world did not overcome it. Rather, the light of Christ now shines into the world through us, the church, who have been indwelt with the divine light when we received the Holy Spirit at our baptisms.
This is a great and priceless gift which St. Paul describes as a treasure, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." (2 Cor. 4:7) We have much to learn, though, if we are going to move away from the pride and arrogance that characterized our enslavement to sin and self and embrace the treasure that has been entrusted to us. We do this, "so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh," (2 Cor. 4:11) for it is through the revelation of this treasure to the world, through the light of the Gospel and the manifestation of Jesus through us, that the darkness and ugliness of the world will be transformed it into something bright and beautiful as we are reconciled back to the God in whose image we were created.
As we journey through Trinity Season let us intentionally work and train and discipline ourselves so that the light of Jesus can be revealed to the world through our own mortal flesh. He is the light that can cure the darkness around us. His love can conquer the hate, His ministry of reconciliation can restore division, and His message of forgiveness can provide the peace, comfort, and hope that we need and that our world craves.
(As published in St Luke's E-News Update, 5/30/18)