When you read the title, “Don’t be a light”, you must’ve thought to yourself, “Mike, we’re supposed to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth! It’s Scriptural!” (Matthew 5: 13-14) And yes, I agree not only because it’s from Scripture, but also it’s a quotation of Jesus’ own words about us! But as we’ll see in the upcoming G.K. Chesterton quote, we want to be distinct in this statement that it’s Christ’s light shining through us rather than solely our light by ourselves. I thought about entitling this blog, Don’t be your own light, as that would’ve been the accurate message of this blog. But then Don’t be a light sparks the, “Hey Mike, but…” and I always like a lively discussion.
I love the upcoming quote for various reasons among which: 1) it’s throwing in comparative religion which was part of my undergrad Religion degree and 2) I love the use of analogies in our faith (although prefaced with limits for every analogy) and 3) The passage brought back a childhood memory of when I heard a homily saying were called to be like the saints in the stained glass windows with this message about Jesus’ light shining through us.
Ready for the quote now? Ok. In 1911, G.K. Chesterton wrote the following in his book, Alarms and Discourses (the chapter where this quote can be found is called Fading Fireworks. Doesn’t the name just make you want to read that chapter?! And there’s another chapter in there called On Gargoyles! But back to the topic. Chesterton wrote:
“The art of coloured glass can truly be called the most typically Christian of all arts or artifices. The art of coloured lights is as essentially Confucian as the art of coloured windows is Christian. Aesthetically, they produce somewhat the same impression on the fancy; the impression of something glowing and magical; something at once mysterious and transparent. But the difference between their substance and structure is the whole difference between the great western faith and the great eastern agnosticism. The Christian windows are solid and human, made of heavy lead, of hearty and characteristic colours; but behind them is the light. The colours of the fireworks are as festive and as varied; but behind them is the darkness. They themselves are their only illumination; even as in that stern philosophy, man is his own star. The rockets of ruby and sapphire fade away slowly upon the dome of hollowness and darkness. But the kings and saints in the old Gothic windows, dusky and opaque in this hour of midnight, still contain all their power of full flamboyance, and await the rising of the sun.”
So awesome. And to end, here’s a recent picture of me in Saint James Catholic Church where I went to school from kindergarten to 8th grade. And also where I heard the homily mentioned above. I get to go there every now and then as my mom still lives in the same house a few minutes from St. James. Yay for Jesus’ light shining through us, saints, and stained glass windows!
Going old school,