Jesus came as “light” into the world – and Jesus passed on this light to His Church. He sent His Church to be the light of the world, in Him. The world needs light! The world is becoming encompassed by, immersed in, and it seems overwhelmed by darkness. God made man in His own beautiful image – but man chose, and chooses, an ugly counterfeit of light, all the while telling himself and one another that such darkness is actually light and no counterfeit at all.
As the world seems to fall further and further into crudeness, baseness, disrespect and irreverence – with the corresponding social ills of violence, abuse, injustice and corruption – I see more and more clearly the need for prayer to God for His light and His grace. By himself, man will only kill himself and one another in the process. We need the light and the life of God – and the Church needs to bear witness to this need, and to the fount of divine life and light that God has entrusted to His Church.
Men begin to see God, when they see men of God. Thus we need not merely teachers, as Paul VI said, but witnesses. The world needs righteous men and women – men and women of God, whose lives are explained and make sense only in His light. We don’t need salesmen, or advertisers, or corporate officials, or managers – or if we do, we need them only in and after true witness. We need saints! And without saints, we are the most impoverished of any charitable NGO or social club. We need prayer!
Prayer is communion with God. The Catechism (#2564) says, “Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ.” We need saints in prayer, because only there is the bridge to God, to life, to sanity. Men and women in relationship with God are crucial and sacred bridges linking man, and men, in darkness to God Who is light and life. Over this bridge, so to speak, can pass saving grace – living water – to a world of men lost in a dry, barren desert of darkness. We need men and women of prayer.
What is reverence, if not the foundation and enduring attitude of prayer? What is reverence if not the human response to the presence of God who is ever-present? What is reverence if not the habit of being in the presence of God, and thus the habit of prayer? In the transfiguration, the apostles saw Jesus radiating with a light different from any before seen. They saw Him radiating the beatitude of His communion with the Father and the Spirit. They saw, I would suggest, in supernatural perfection what is pointed to, and prefigured in a limited and natural way, in authentic reverence. Reverence radiates holy, personal and intimate communion with God. Reverence in a righteous man or woman radiates what is glowing within: communion with the ever-present and eternal God. The righteous man or woman “sees” Him! The only righteous response is the habit of holy reverence, and the habit of continual prayer with Him.
The human person, by his nature, needs to find and to enter and to remain in an attitude of reverence. Only such an attitude – an habitual attitude of reverence – is worthy of a human person and only this allows him to live in appreciation of life, his life, and time, and creation, and other persons, and his very being. Only reverence can keep a person in prayer, as he walks through his life on this earth.
Reverence is the foundation of prayer – the first step into prayer – the interior recognition of the presence of the holy, in which we are standing at this moment. Reverence recognizes the Other in Whom we are immersed, even now. Whether in silence and solitude, or in a noisy crowd rushing here or there on some street of some city, it really does not matter. God is present, waiting in His eternal silence, for our awakening and our knowing how near He is, here and now.
So many in the world do not seem to know of this resting place and resting time with Him, in reverence. They seem to know only the outside of things and moments, only the busyness and the noise, and not the quiet interior center where life is.
Why is it that this place of rest, this reverence – this Sabbath – is not seen, is not found, is not known? Perhaps people are too afraid to stop and look for it. It is not hidden, unless it is hidden in plain sight, right before our eyes. It is not covered, unless by the dust of our own blind activity. It is not too far from us, unless we are too far from ourselves and the present moment in which we live and move and have our being.
There is a “great escape” being attempted by man, in our time. He is in flight from God, he is running. He fears the very light that would save him. Jesus sent His Church to be the light that came not to condemn but to save, and the world deserves – in the union of mercy and justice that is in God – His light. Church, let each and every one of us hear His call to us to be light in this dark world! Let each and every one of us give to the last breath we breathe, our lives in a living sacrifice to His will, that we might be a bridge of reverence and prayer, for others to the saving light of Christ.