“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
“For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.”
St. Ignatius Loyola jotted down his many insights in the Spiritual Exercises, which have become the ‘bread and butter’ of the Society of Jesus for centuries. One such insight is the thirteenth rule for the Discernment of (good and evil) Spirits. In it Ignatius compares the evil spirit’s seductive ways to a licentious lover who seeks to keep an illicit relationship hidden. He continues, “When the enemy of human nature [the evil spirit] brings his wiles and persuasions to the just soul, he wants and desires that they be received and kept in secret; but when one reveals them to his good Confessor or to another spiritual person that knows the enemy’s deceits and evil ends, it is very grievous to him because he gathers, from his manifest deceits being discovered, that he will not be able to succeed with his wickedness.”
To bring into the light one’s sins, baggage, addictions, weaknesses—these frustrate the evil spirit who lulls us into that prideful autonomy that proclaims Non serviam! We are tempted to go-it-alone, putting on our best appearance before God and others. And yet today’s Gospel reminds us in no uncertain terms that what is hidden will not remain secret. One response to this is despair: “Big Brother is watching, and he doesn’t like what he sees.” This is a common critique of Catholic Christianity, as if we worship a judgmental God who sits watching all we do and conveys his displeasure through an equally judgmental, moralistic church hierarchy.
But there is another, more freeing understanding of this Gospel. The insight? Our God, who fashioned us and sustains us in being, knows all about our dark temptations and failings. He knows when we are petty, prideful, selfish, and dishonest. Yes, He knows our sins, our grudges, our addictions, and what we are most ashamed of in our past. And He wants us to bring these things to light not to shame us, but to be free of the undue anxiety that these can have on us in mind, body, and soul.
Mold and smells, like our secrets and temptations, spawn and thrive in the dark. When my mom would expose those moldy shower curtains and musty sheets to the sunlight, they were like new. And when we name sins and temptations, and courageously bring them out into the light, we move toward greater freedom in Christ, who makes all things new.
—Joseph Simmons, SJ
Sometimes it is hard to comprehend that you have your hand on me so I can lend my hand to others. But I know that no day is really ordinary, mundane, or pointless. Regardless of how it may appear, I am needed this day. I have a sacred mission to bring a little more hope, a little more kindness, and the awareness to others of their value and of their distinct contributions awaiting them. I close my prayer, Lord, with the poignant words of Teresa of Avila:
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team