This time of year can be difficult. If we leave for work early enough in the morning, it is dark outside. Depending on our commute and when we leave, it can be dark on our return. The extended darkness can feel oppressive and be depressing or worse, cause seasonal affective disorder. It can leave us longing for the darkness of winter to pass and the longer days of spring to come.
That hoped for light that we might experience is not unlike the light hoped for by Isaiah. He tells us, “Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone” (8: 23 – 9: 1). The light of which Isaiah is prophesying is the light of Christ.
We profess Christ to be the light of the world, and sing in our psalm today, “the Lord is my light and my salvation.” But what is the nature of the light that Jesus brought? If he was a “great light,” how was that experienced? In today’s gospel, he walks along the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum, a town of no more than one thousand people. He strolls up to the Apostles and simply invites them to follow him. They may have heard John the Baptist refer to him as “the Messiah,” but their experience of him, whatever it was, was enough for them to leave everything behind, their trade and their families and follow him.
Whether they experienced the light in Jesus at that moment or not, they would soon learn the quality of light he bears by following him. As “the light of the world,” he radiates a gentle relief to the gloom and darkness of our world. His light is the light of love and forgiveness. His light is a light of healing that removes the darkness of illness, suffering and even death. His light is a light of truth that expels the darkness of sin and death.
And so if we place ourselves in that scene with Peter, Andrew, James and John, how would we respond to Jesus’ call? Or better yet, if Jesus came to us today, how would we respond? Does the darkness of cynicism or doubt or business disable our ability to see the light of Christ before us? He calls us in the same way that he called the Apostles. Can we hear that invitation of Jesus to follow him? He invites us out of the darkness of our lives into His light. Are we ready to follow?