Icon (Close Menu)

Light and Beauty (Pentecost 2, Year B)

June 2 | Pentecost 2, Year B

1 Sam. 3:1-10 (11-20) or Deut. 5:12-15
Ps. 139:1-5, 12-17 or Ps. 81:1-10
2 Cor. 4:5-12
Mark 2:23-3:6

Without subverting today’s Collect to confusion or doubt, we may nonetheless, and in all faithfulness, express a difficulty that we cannot help noticing. We confess that God’s “never-failing providence sets in order all things in heaven and earth.” There is but one God, and he is sovereign over all, and yet this cannot mean a dictatorial and mechanical control over all things in every detail, in which case the universe would be a machine void of volition or any semblance of freedom. Indeed, we pray him to put away “all hurtful things,” by which we mean those things that would ultimately deprive us of the joy and true challenges of Christian living and our final destiny toward eternal communion with God.

So, amid what we call providence, there is the problem of evil, and the mathematics of this apparent contradiction is quite beyond our mental and spiritual capacity. It is a measure of Christian maturity to recognize that there are questions to which we do not have answers. We earnestly hope and pray that “hurtful things” will not destroy us, not ultimately, however painful they may be, and our constant prayer is that we may find and pursue “those things which are profitable for us” (the Collect).

In this life, we have tribulation. St. Paul reminds us that “we are afflicted in every way,” “perplexed,” “persecuted,” “stuck down,” “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:8-10). He is talking about himself, referring to the blows he incurred in service to the gospel, but he is no less describing an aspect of all Christian existence. There are “hurtful things” that find their way into our mortal and frail lives. How, then, do we cope?

St. Paul speaks of a great inner light. “For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). One thinks immediately of Genesis 1:3: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light.’” We know that the first spark of light was and is the light of Christ. In his renowned prologue, St. John writes, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. … The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:3-5; 9).

Christ is the morning star burning within us. Christ is the vesper light at the close of the day. Christ is that perpetual light of which we sing, “O gracious light, pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven, O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed! Now as we come to the setting of the sun, and our eyes behold the vesper light, we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (BCP, p. 118).

With the light of Christ burning within us, we endure, and we prosper. Amid trials and tribulations, we are not crushed, we do not despair, and we are not destroyed. We carry within us the life and the light of Jesus Christ our Lord. Moreover, we experience a deep inner joy. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11). My Latin Bible invites a wider interpretation: delights, ornaments, grace, splendor, honor, and dignity. The life of Christ in us is a life more beautiful than we can ask or imagine.

Look It Up: Psalm 81:1-2

Thank About It: The light in you calls forth a new song!


Top headlines. Every Friday.