Lamp for a Dark Place

Spring Lake even

The sky over the boardwalk at Spring Lake, New Jersey, is sometimes swept with colors before nightfall. Then, a lamp becomes the only light till dawn.


“I came into the world as light,” Jesus says in today’s gospel” so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.( John 12:44-50)


The sun will rise again and the great Sun will also rise again, Augustine says in one of his sermons. Then  “lamps will no longer be needed. When that day is at hand, the prophet will not be read to us, the book of the Apostle will not be opened, we shall not require the testimony of John, we shall have no need of the Gospel itself. Therefore all Scriptures will be taken away from us, those Scriptures which in the night of this world burned like lamps so that we might not remain in darkness.”

Darkness is temporary; we are meant for light.

“I implore you to love with me and, by believing, to run with me; let us long for our heavenly country, let us sigh for our heavenly home, let us truly feel that here we are strangers. What shall we then see? Let the gospel tell us: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. You will come to the fountain, with whose dew you have already been sprinkled.

“Instead of the ray of light which was sent through slanting and winding ways into the heart of your darkness, you will see the light itself in all its purity and brightness. It is to see and experience this light that you are now being cleansed. Dearly beloved, John himself says, we are the sons of God, and it has not yet been disclosed what we shall be; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

“I feel that your spirits are being raised up with mine to the heavens above; but the body which is corruptible weighs down the soul, and this earthly tent burdens the thoughtful mind. I am about to lay aside this book, and you are soon going away, each to his own business. It has been good for us to share the common light, good to have enjoyed ourselves, good to have been glad together. When we part from one another, let us not depart from him.”

6 thoughts on “Lamp for a Dark Place

  1. Bill Barnett

    The picture is stunning. The light metaphor is profound. We are in darkness and need to rely on the lanterns of Christianity until the light surrounds us.

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  2. Orlando Hernandez

    Sirach tells us that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, (1:14). I don’t know if I feel much wiser, but reading the words of St Augustine I experienced some of that holy fear. I imagined that the Presence of God in this life is like the mist that drenches a passerby in front of Horseshoe Falls at Niagara. The actual massive waterfall lit up with blinding light in the darkness of the night is the source of the mist, calling to all of us, “Beloved come to Me!”
    I admit it’s a little scary. But where else can we go, when He has the words of eternal life?

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  3. vhoagland Post author

    There one kind of fear that stops us in our track and freezes us so that we hesitate to go on. Another fear, like Sirach’s, draws us on, but respectfully, towards what is greater than we know.

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