The biblical passage: 2 Cor 4, 3-6
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
The source of the conversion of Paul, the apostle, is God Himself, who like a light flashing from heaven enters his life. Yesterday’s enemies of Paul, after his conversion become his friends, his friends become his enemies. Someone from another world appears in his life. Paul’s meeting with Christ reaches its climax in the question Jesus asks: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Afterwards Paul’ attitude to God, to other people, to himself changes. This we know very well: Paul, or to be precise Saul, lived previously as the scribes and enjoyed cruel persecutions of Christians. He had no pricks of conscience, no doubts as to the rightness of his demeanor. Not until he has heard Christ asking him, “Why do you persecute me?” Only then does Paul begin to think critically! Only then does he begin to examine himself, his motivation, his attitude! We can surmise that the words spoken by Christ might have touched Paul deep down in his heart. This question asked by Jesus might have struck him as a reproach or complaint of someone exhausted with suffering. We know that Paul must have known all along what he has been doing. And then, all of a sudden he can see the true condition of his life, which has been a life of a persecutor and evildoer.
There, on the way to Damascus God in Jesus Christ addresses this dangerous evildoer! Jesus Christ grants him the grace of His company! God in Jesus Christ addresses Paul and this conversation initiates a radical change in Paul’s life. When God talks to man – metaphorically speaking – then “the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining,” (1 JN 2, 8). The moment of conversion is a moment of dramatic suspension between happiness and unhappiness, joy and sorrow, old despair and new hope. On the one hand, one can see clearly that one’s life until now has been wrong, that one has inflicted pain upon other people and blindly accepted stereotypes. On the other hand, room is made anew for happiness, joy and hope.
Today’s epiphany strengthens us in the happy belief that a new beginning is always possible in human life, for God is interested in us and well-disposed towards us. Today’s epiphany helps us ask ourselves the question “why…” am I the person I am. Am I not by any chance misled in my perception of reality by some misconceptions? Am I not inflicting suffering on other people by my life-style? Do I notice around myself my neighbors, whom I owe so much? Do I truly care for them? Conversion is not simply a change of convictions. Conversion is not a one-time event, but a permanent state which consists in continual attentive listening to God’s voice of goodness. This voice may take the form of the statement: “You persecute me!” Here is the shining light of God’s words permeates man as a double-edged sword! Naturally, its strength is not destructive, it brings hope and it brings conversion in that it helps man put things in his/her life in order. This hope is about Christ, it is about man, it is about being able to choose Christ on one’s own behalf.
Already celebrating Christmas we could see the great Light, whose face and name is that of Jesus Christ. The days of Christmas gave us once again a chance to experience that it is good for man to be in Christ. He can give light to our minds, hearts and homes, which means that Christ wants to be the center of our piety and of our gatherings for the services in church. Can we ever as Christians understand ourselves, can we understand each other without Christ? To carry the light of Jesus Christ to the world, we need not at all go on a mission, it suffices to look around and make the effort to say a kind word. Enlightened by His light we may become the light for others. Whoever lives in the light of Jesus and with Jesus, can, or even should, share this light with others, he/she should by no means hide it from them. I will conclude the sermon today with the words of the Gospel according to St Matthew: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Mt 5, 16). Amen.
Rev. Dr Dariusz Chwastek, translated by Dr Joanna Teske