You are the light of the world

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14, RSV).

I often like to use the analogy of a kerosene lamp to explain the holiness of families. 

Have you seen an oil lamp before? Beginning from the bottom, it usually has a part that contains the kerosene, the wick is usually soaked in it, with just a bit at the top for lighting. Then you have the transparent glass over the area of the flame, with an opening at the top for air to escape. 

Oil is often used in parables in the bible. Not only does it represent some sort of healing (Mark 6:13) and anointing (the anointing of Solomon and anointing of Jesus’ feet by Mary), but also good works (parable of the virgins). 

All of these can often be found in maternity. 

Whenever a child falls and hurts himself, or falls ill, the mother is usually the one that nurses him, dresses his wounds, prepares a soothing broth and attends to the child. Often in the home as well, the tender and maternal touch of a woman can be both felt and seen. Flowers at the table or altar for our Lady, packed lunches or meals catered to the taste of each family member (moms always know what and how we like our food!), keeping the house neat and tidy and the organization of all the schedules of everyone!! What a task! This self-giving, this self-donation stems from the self-donation, the fiat, of Our Lady. This echo of her “Yes!” engenders life, not only biologically, but also spiritually. Venerable Fulton Sheen tells us that a “woman's unhappiest moments are when she is unable to give; her most hellish moments are when she refuses to give.” 

And therefore we can associate the oil soaked wick, in the oil lamp, to the woman. The wick not only soaked in the oil of good works, and healing, but also in the self-giving of the wick as it is burnt up, used up and consumed by the flame. For when a woman gives, she echoes the life and light of God, to others.

What then, about the man? 

Men, physically stronger in build, provide for and protect the family. As the head of the household he prays for God to protect his family, and like a watchman, looks out for danger that threatens to harm the family, each and every member. The more he strives to die to himself and be virtuous, the more he resembles Christ our Lord. The more he is purified by Hope and Faith, the more he allows the light of Christ to pass through him and shine.  

Hence we can associate the glass chimney to the man. The husband that protects the family, protects the light within the family from being snuffed out by the billowing winds of materialism, secularism and individualism. His constant dying to self, and striving for virtue facilitates the self-giving and the burning of the wick, keeping the light of Christ, the joy and witnessing of the harmony of the Trinity, alive and for the world to see. 

After all, one lights a lamp for the purpose of bringing light to the darkness, of desiring to see. 

And to see what? To see who?

To see the Trinitarian God—alive, moving, inspiring, directing, protecting, loving and very much so active in the lives of His faithful masterpieces on earth, man.  Our existence gives glory to God. 

“'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,’ […] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27, RSV).

 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14, RSV).

-Winnie Ng, Singapore