The Light of the World

Last Friday, January 6, was the Feast of Epiphany, celebrated (in America, at least) on the first Sunday after January 1. According to Wikipedia, “In Christianity, the Epiphany refers to a realization that Christ is the Son of God.”

Over the weekend my family attended the annual Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival, “a joyous and poignant celebration of Epiphany (according to its program),” at a Congregational Church for which my son sings in the choir.

The festival contains much symbolism: Christ’s triumph over evil (the boar’s head), help for the needy (Good King Wenceslas), the rekindling of love (the Yule log), and the coming of the light of Christ, which is for all the world.

“All the world.” That means everybody, right?

I am reminded that the earliest Christians were mostly Jews, and had a hard time accepting the apostle Paul’s assertion that even Gentiles are included in God’s plan of salvation.

Okay, then. What about people who practice non-Christian religions? I turned to a favorite resource for understanding Scripture, The Sunday Website of Saint Louis University.

“The religions are different approaches to God, and each reveals a special aspect of who God is,” writes John Foley, SJ. “Each religion and belief helps the others. Jesus became a light to all nations — not a light instead of other lights, not the light that puts out all others, but that most rare and poignant beam of all. His glow gives fiber and strength and depth to each and every other light that shines. So which religion is first? Catholic Christians would do well to seek last place and try to be servant of all.”

Program cover from this past weekend’s festival.

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