Last summer, I was hiking for two weeks in Portugal and Spain to Santiago de Compostella, to the shrine of Saint James. Every day, after hours of walking through the beautiful and scenic landscape of the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula, I arrived exhausted but fulfilled and content, at hostels where I and other pilgrims rested, enjoyed our companionship, and slept in large dorms. In the early hours of the morning, often before the sun had risen, we prepared ourselves for the next stage of the pilgrimage. At times we started walking in complete darkness, guided by the light of a few flashlights. Often we saw a light ahead of us on the horizon and, as our guidebooks explained, knew that this is the light of one of the few cafés along the Camino, as the way to Santiago is called, that has already opened. The thought of a fresh cup of coffee and a sandwich cheered us up and made the hike easy.
This came to my mind when I was reading today’s gospel. Jesus said to his followers: "Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lamp-stand?" The light of the Spanish café was clearly not hidden, it was visible from far away, gave us pilgrims hope and joy, and let us forget our painful feet and physical weaknesses. The light of the café is a metaphor for the Good News of Jesus, which should not be hidden away but visible to those who long for guidance, hope for an end to their suffering, and wait to be energized to tackle the challenges of their lives. The Good News of Christ gives hope to those in darkness, like the Prophet Isaiah said: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
We have seen this light and our lives should become radiant with the same light. Through our lives others should get hope and become energized. The gifts that we received from God should, as St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy in today’s reading, “stir into flame”! These flames can enlighten the deepest darkness of those around us who are suffering, marginalized, and oppressed.
Let us pray today that our gifts “stir into flame,” enlighten others, bring them hope and joy, and energize them to share their gifts with those around them.