Community Reflection: You are the Light of the World
By Katie Mulembe, Catholic Volunteer Network
“You are the light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one lights a lamp and puts it under a clay pot. Instead, it is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so others will see the good you do and will praise your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
Fr. Ken is a priest I got to know while I was in college. He had a habit of shouting “you are the light of the world” to just about any student he saw coming his way, even if the student was sleepwalking to class or stumbling home after one too many beers. I was blessed to be on the receiving end of his important reminders many times during my college years, and even now, I can’t help but smile at the memory of those cherished moments. Fr. Ken isn’t the one who introduced me to this verse, but he is the one who helped me understand its true meaning. Before those encounters, I must have interpreted the verse as “You could be the light of the world,” rather than “You are the light of the world.” I thought that light was something I needed to earn or create on my own, not something that was already present within me. Through Fr. Ken’s persistent declarations for me and my fellow students, I learned that light isn’t something we strive for. Light is something we share.
This verse tells us that light is best utilized in the context of community. When we live together and utilize our gifts for the good of all, we also inspire others to do the same. During these first few months of life with your new community, you will inevitably run into some rough spots, but as you struggle, ask yourself the question “How can I be a source of light here?” You may be surprised how a simple gesture of love can diffuse tension and repair strained relationships. It is likely that your housemates will respond to your acts of kindness with some of their own. This is light at work.
Finally, don’t confine this great light to the walls of your home. You are in a position to be a source of hope and strength for your neighbors, co-workers, and the people you serve. Don’t be afraid to share your light with others by reminding them that they, too, are the light of the world.
Questions for Discussion:
- Who has inspired you to let your light shine?
- What are some examples of “light at work” in your community living experience?
- How is your home serving as a light in your community?
- Which of your neighbors can you serve by sharing your light with them?