In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, and God’s spirit hovered over the water.
God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that light was god, and God divided light from darkness. God called light “day”, and darkness he called “night”. Evening came and morning came: the first day.
God said, “Let there be a vault in the waters to divide the waters in two.” And so it was. God made the vault, and it divided the waters above the vault from the waters under the vault. god called the vault “heaven”. Evening came and morning came: the second day.
God said, “Let the waters under heaven come together into a single mass, and let dry land appear.” And so it was. God called the dry land “earth” and the mass of waters “seas”, and God saw that it was good.
God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants, and trees bearing fruit with their seed inside, on the earth.” And so it was. The earth produced vegetation: plants bearing seed in their several kinds, and trees bearing fruit with their seed in their several kinds. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came: the third day.
God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from earth, and let them indicate festivals, days and years. Let them be lights in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth.” And so it was God made the two great lights: the greater light to govern the day, the smaller light to govern the night, and the stars. God set them in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth, to govern the day and the night an to divide light from darkness. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came: the fourth day.
Having made the crossing, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Genessaret and tied up. No sooner had they stepped out of the boat than people recognised him, and started hurrying all through the countryside and brought the sick on stretchers to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, to village, or town, or farm, they laid down the sick in the open spaces, begging him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak. And all those who touched him were cured.
Last Monday, I went to see the sinseh for my shoulder injury. In the midst of the treatment, the assistant who was warming up my joints for the treatment asked about the nature of my work. I told him that I worked for the Catholic Church and he tried to explain to him as best as I could what the Catholic Church was, in my extremely basic Mandarin. Then he asked me which church I worshipped at. Novena Church?
(For those not from Singapore, Novena Church is Singapore’s most well-known church, popular for its weekly Novenas to the Blessed Mother Mary. About 30,000 people visit the church every Saturday, and about 10 to 20 percent of these are non-Catholics.)
A short while later, the assistant to the sinseh asked me, “You Catholics… do you worship Mary?” As strange as it might seem, I don’t recall having been asked this question in person before, and it was such a strange place to have that question asked of me. So once again, in my basic Mandarin, I tried to explain to him what Mary means to us.
As I reflect on today’s readings, I am reminded of an interpretation and reflection that I read somewhere before. In the first reading, we see that on the first day, God created light, and it was good. He didn’t create darkness; it was already there. Darkness is therefore something that was not created by God. God merely named the darkness “night”. Since light was created by God and comes from God, naturally then darkness is something not created by God, and not from God. We also see that God doesn’t say, “Darkness is bad.” It’s just something that’s not from God.
On the fourth day, we also see that God created two lights - the greater light to govern the day, and the smaller light to govern the night. In the day, the light from the sun fills the earth. Even in the midst of the light, however, there can still be the presence of darkness, such as shadows. Shadows are formed whenever something blocks the light from reaching a place.
Night time is when darkness falls. If there is no darkness, only light, we can’t and don’t rightfully call it “night”, do we? In the darkness of night, there is still light. Not the bright blinding, warm light of the sun, but the soft, cool, gentle light of the moon. At night, creatures that would otherwise be blinded by the sun’s light, they come out to hunt, to play, to look for forage. Their field of vision is illuminated by the light of the moon, which reflects the light of the sun.
In the gospel reading, we see that when Jesus steps onto the shore, people flock to him. Jesus is the light of the world, as he calls himself. Most of us are creatures of the light. When the light comes into our world, we flock to the source of the light, because we know that it is good.
But even in Jesus presence, there can be darkness. There are people who can stand before Jesus and not recognise him for who he is. Or they may recognise him and reject his presence. These are people in darkness. Some of them choose to remain in darkness, where it is more comfortable for them. Perhaps this is because the light is painful for them; the light will make apparent that which they are ashamed of, hence they prefer to remain in darkness.
But even in darkness, there is light. The interpretation and reflection that I read in the past interpreted the greater light which governs the day as Christ, and the smaller light which governs the night as Mary. Mary’s light comes from Christ, and her light shines in places where Christ’s light does not.
Her light is soft, cool, and gentle. It coaxes those in darkness to come out and bathe in her gentle light. She brings light to those who live in darkness. She goes to places where Christ cannot go without bathing everything in blinding light. She brings Christ’s light to those who are afraid of coming into his light. She welcomes those who live in darkness, accepting them as they are, accepting that they cannot yet go out into the light of Christ, but she always points them in the direction of Christ.
Mary is Christ’s gift to us. She carries out the will of her Son to bring his light to the lost and the lonely, those who still continue to live in darkness, whether by choice or not. Now if only someone could help translate all that to Mandarin…
We pray for all of God’s people to be bathed in the light of Christ, whether it comes directly from him, or reflected through Mary, or through us. May we, the people of the light, become good reflectors of Christ’s light, so that his light may eventually reach all hidden corners of the world. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Mother Mary, who brings us the light of Christ in our moments of darkness and shame.
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