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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

Burning and shining

John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

(John 5:35 NKJV)

Christianity has always been recognizable more by actions than by words. And that's why we love a gospel that urges us to do more and talk less. Jonathan Edwards, the preacher of the "Great Awakening", in his paper Burning and Shining Lamps states that "the true prestige and excellence of the minister of the Gospel consists in being, at the same time, a burning lamp and shining". As was much more common in the past, even today the ministers of the Word should be men who combine light with warmth, reason with passion, thought with feeling, head with heart, study with adoration! John, the Baptist, did not withdraw, on the contrary “he mortified himself and renounced the pleasures of the world; he devoted himself to his work with great diligence and industriousness; he proclaimed the Word of God impartially and without making any distinctions between people; he showed himself humble, rejoicing that Christ's honor would increase and that his fame would decrease, just as the morning star disappears as the sun begins to rise; he was faithful and courageous in preaching the truth even at the cost of his life. This is how his light shone on men”.

Usually a lamp is useful if it illuminates, and therefore the intensity of the light it emanates. Yet Jesus said of John the Baptist that he was first "fiery" and then "resplendent". To be fiery means to burn, to give off heat. Not everyone can see, but they can feel, feel the heat, like when we expose ourselves to sunlight. I would therefore dare to say that God does not like cold light. Shining instead indicates that it emanates light, therefore it illuminates, thins out the darkness. We could also hypothesize speaking (teaching) clearly, able to indicate the way to those who have lost it. Whether we think of combustion lamps or energy lights, all light sources have one thing in common: they wear out. This makes me suppose and believe that the lamps lit "by" and "for" God will not escape from being consumed for others, without ever seeking a splendor of personal glory. Every good Christian will have no ambition to be a "star" of the ecclesial landscape, but only a pilgrim who lets himself be guided by the "bright morning star" (Revelation 22:16).

John's light had a secret. To be great one must first of all be and become smaller every day, just like him: "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30). We need a continuous bath in humility, in order to avoid replacing our Master rather than persevering in the example of John. I would like to be wrong, but the humble person is increasingly rare, that is, one who does not judge, does not criticize, does not boast, does not despise, does not exalt himself, does not seek his own glory. We are carried away by the ideology of having and appearing, which does not know how to look at the heart in the least. We are thus contributing to a world with few moral virtues. Growing violence tells us that knowing how to lie, stand out and be respected by force is a must, otherwise you are a failure. We prefer to flee from biblical teachings and precepts, because they are considered inconvenient, not useful for our comfortable and petty needs. It is necessary, every day, to strive to reverse the course, because happiness is not to climb higher (above others), but to serve those in need. Dear reader, let your light shine, whether you are a candle in a corner or a lighthouse on a hill. You and I are not the source of light that can totally illuminate the world, but as far as our gaze, our vision reaches, we could do our part, because "Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you” (Luke 11:36).

Weekly Bible Reading

Plan # 27

June 28, Job 11-13; Acts 9:1-21

June 29, Job 14-16; Acts 9:22-43

June 30, Job 17-19; Acts 10:1-23

July 01, Job 20-21; Acts 10:24-48

July 02, Job 22-24; Acts 11

July 03, Job 25-27; Acts 12

July 04, Job 28-29; Acts 13:1-25


Photo by Andreas Sloth, from FreeImages

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