The WORD in Other Words by Fr Ferdinand Bajao SVD (Philippines) for 1st Simbang Gabi
In today‘s Gospel, Jesus mentions “rejoicing in the light,” referring to the “burning and shining lamp” named John the Baptist in whose light people contently basked and bathed in for some time. John the Baptist, a luminous figure in the darkness of the wilderness, attracted people to rejoice in the light while fanning in their hearts the flames of anticipation of the coming Messiah.
As precursor, he was much like the dawn heralding the bright day of the Lord (John 1:8). Hence, crooked paths and hearts were straightened for the Lord to walk on.
John‘s testimony of Christ was a necessary stage Christ would in turn testify to the One and True God and Father. At the inauguration of his public ministry, the mission of Jesus as given by the Father was brought to light “To proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind” (cf Luke 4: 18). Those steeped in the darkness of sin would soon open their eyes, and behold the coming of the Light: “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned” (cf Matthew 4:16).
Reception of the Light is a life in God resulting in conversion: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel” (cf. Mark 1:14)
Today, we begin the well—loved Filipino tradition, Simbang Gabi. May the Light of Christ illumine the dark spaces in our soul. May we not get entangled with the rush and the twinkling of ornamental lights that this world offers, but rather yearn for the true life in Christ, the true rejoicing in the Light!