“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” 

— Matthew 5: 14-16

In our world today, there are many types of light.  Let me enumerate some:  There is the neon light, the dancing light, the spot light, the Christmas light, and the ubiquitous fluorescent light.  Let me share with you some of their characteristics.

The neon light is what we see most of the time adorning billboards, it is lovely to behold especially when applied with different colors.  It makes the billboard ad more inviting, appealing to the eyes and which, more often than not, snatches our attention.  But then, it has one major weakness: for it to be truly useful, it has to wait for the sunlight to vanish before it can roar into life giving the city its pomp and rhythm.  But half the day, it is dead for it is no match to the daytime’s brightness.

Almost all of the dance halls are dead without the cadence of the dancing light.  It makes the environment conducive to dancing giving the false pretense that a ballroom or dance hall is no hall at all if people in it merely stare at each other’s eyes without the necessary blink of the dancing light.

The spot light is an all-powerful light which makes you sweat and almost get blinded should you find yourself blocking its path.  Powerful as it may seem, its strength is confined only in one place at a time: where it gives daytime brightness to one side, it causes the other side to fall into stark darkness.

There is the seasonal Christmas light, which lends the air the aura of cheer and giving.  While it is popular in that one event, it is almost out of place outside the season and is left stored in bins, lying useless for most of the year.

Then we have the ever lowly but dependable fluorescent light.  I consider it lowly because of its utter simplicity and total lack of style, that it seldom finds its way to any room in the houses of the well-endowed.  And when it does, it takes on another form or shape as if to say its mere appearance destroys the ambience of the room.  Yet we almost always find one in the shanties of the less privileged where it provides much-needed light to anyone and anything else in the room.

We are the light of the world… but which type?

Are we like the neon light wherein we always prefer our world to be dark because we feel powerless and unappreciated in the bright?  That our usefulness begins at dusk when people scramble to the safety of their homes after a day’s work and we bug them with all our adornments and superficial colors?

Are we like the dancing light, wherein we give the world its rhythm and life but feel inadequate once the music stops or slows down; wherein we always want everything around us to be upbeat as if it were the only trace of life?

Are we like the spot light wherein we shower people or things with attention one at a time and leave the rest to grope in the dark feeling unnoticed? And when we do, we shower them with attention in all its lavishness until they sweat in the heat of our praise invariably moving them to discomfort; focusing our attention to the minutest detail, leaving the perspective to some other space?

Or we might be like the Christmas light wherein we lend ourselves to the spirit of giving and sharing as if to herald the coming of the Savior, but lying asleep and without purpose for the most part as if we’re the modern-day Scrooges awaiting the wake-up call of the Christmas spirits?

Are we like the fluorescent light: lowly and utterly simple, that we feel most welcome in the homes of the less fortunate; and where most of the time it is the only vestige of modernity and pride that they can surely afford?

You are the light of the world… Neon, dancing, spotlight, Christmas light, fluorescent.

And you, what sort of light are you?

Joel Gabriel

"Fray Joel" entered the Dominican formation in 1990 straight out of high school. In 1993 he received the habit of the Order of Preachers while being admitted to the novitiate. He obtained his A.B. Philosophy degree in 1996 at the same time that he decided to take a leave from seminary life. In the secular world, he trained as a mainframe programmer with Citibank which started his career in Information Technology, and the rest as they say is history. Joel has been an IT practitioner all his professional life gaining experience and expertise with global companies such as Citibank Asia-Pacific, RCG-IT, IBM Solutions, Accenture and James-Martin/Headstrong. Based in the New York metro area since 2012, Joel is currently an IT Support Operations Manager with Genpact possessing over 15 years of success leading diverse technology projects within the Capital Markets and Financial Services industry and domain. Joel is happily married to Nancy Aquino-Gabriel.

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