This Growing, Widening Light

The Gospel does not easily surrender its meaning. Sometimes it is only by wrestling with it through the deepest night that a ray of light breaks through by early dawn. Luke 8:16-18  is one such pericope. It concludes with a word and a thought that is troubling, that the one who has will be given more, and from the one who has not, even that will be taken away. It is a kind of assault on my sense of fairness and justice, and even of the grace that is offered to all. The passage calls for closer scrutiny. There is no object given to the verb “having.” I do not know what is in the possession of the one who has, nor of what is the other deprived. There is, however, an indication of the direction of the narrative. It begins with lighting a lamp and positioning it so that it shed light on all. Further, what is hidden will be revealed, and I am encouraged to take care how I hear what is said. I need to hear what is said differently from what is written. Sound interprets sight, and sight, light, enlightens sound. Here are opposing forces: light and darkness, revealed and hidden, possessing and deprived. When a light is turned on in a dark place, it allows me to see where everything is located. Light reveals everything in its proper place, an order of harmony, a creation that thrives because everything accomplishes its proper purpose in its proper place. Light reveals where I stand in relation to the creation around me, giving me perspective, allowing me to understand what my several relationships are. Light enlightens. Darkness does not merely descend, it is already there, as the chaos waiting to be enlightened. What I need to hear differently is that those who are of the light, and in the light, will have “more” in the sense that light spreads itself out in all directions, revealing all that is there to be seen, and bringing all into the openness of the light. Light brings to light more of what is there, and this is the increase. The one who has not seems to be the one who not only has not the light, but has, indeed, the darkness. What I need to hear differently is that what this one has, that is, the darkness, will be taken away. What I need to hear differently is that this narrative is a promise, a hopeful promise, that none will be left in the darkness, and all will be brought under the divine light, that shines in the redeemer. The Psalmist says, “even darkness is not dark to thee.”

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