“You are the Light of the World”
GUIDING LIGHT - Rev. Fr. Benjamin Sim sj (The Freeman) - March 3, 2019 - 12:00am

Hans Christian Andersen has a story called “The King’s New Clothes.”  It tells the story of a king, who was very fond of clothes. The king didn’t care about power or money or travel.  He loved clothes and spent all his money on clothes. 

 

One day two swindlers came to his kingdom. They claimed they could weave for the king the most magnificent clothes imaginable. “Best of all,” they told the king, “the cloth is invisible to anyone who is stupid and unfit to hold public office.”

The king was delighted and commissioned the two men to weave a set of royal garments from this remarkable cloth.  “Besides making me look handsome,” thought the king, “these new clothes will also allow me to learn who is stupid and unfit to hold public office.”

One day the king sent his highest official to the weavers to check on the progress of his new clothes.  The swindlers made a great pretense of showing the clothes to the high official.  But in truth, there were no clothes at all.

The high official afraid to appear stupid and unfit to hold public office, pretended to ‘see’ the clothes.  Then he returned to the king and reported how beautiful the clothes were. The king was thrilled.

Finally, the day came for the king to dress in his new clothes and parade through the streets of his kingdom to show these to his subjects. 

The king was shocked when the swindlers dressed him in his new clothes. He couldn’t see them – because, well, there were no clothes. But the king didn’t want to appear stupid and unfit for public office, so he pretended to see the clothes. He told the swindlers how pleased he was with his new clothes.

And so the king paraded through the streets to show off his new clothes to his subjects. Well, his subjects were shocked when the king appeared. He had no clothes on at all!  But, again, they didn’t want to appear stupid and unfit to hold public office.  So, they pretended to see the king’s new clothes. 

Everyone applauded and cheered loudly as the king passed.  And the king was delighted.

Then, all of a sudden, a little boy turned to his mother and said, “The king has nothing on! The king has nothing on!”  Then slowly, all the people around the boy began to whisper to one another, “The king has nothing on!”

The king overheard the whispers and knew that the people were right. But he thought to himself, “I must go on with this.  I cannot stop now.”

That story contains an important message for modern Christians like ourselves and especially for people in a country like ours. 

Jesus told us that we are to be a light to the world.  We are to be a lamp on a lamp-stand, giving light to the whole house.   We are to be a city built on a mountaintop, giving light to the whole world.

In a modern society filled with error, confusion, violence, corruption, fake news and sham, we must be a light shining in darkness. We cannot simply follow the crowd in darkness and go along with what the controlled media say to us what is “the modern,” what is the “in-thing today.”

We must think for ourselves.  We must have the courage of our convictions.  We cannot simply follow the crowd blindly.

If we accept many of the values of our society, and follow the crowd, we may be letting the swindlers of society lead us.  If we blindly follow the propaganda and advertisements,  we may be like the people in Hans Christian Andersen’s story who allowed themselves to be taken for a ride by the two swindlers.

Jesus has not called us and given us the truth to let it lie hidden. He called us and gave us the truth so that we may share it with the rest of our world.  He called us and gave us the truth so that we may be a light to the world and salt for society.

Concretely, this means that we must speak out against injustice wherever we find it. We must speak out against discrimination wherever we find it. We must speak out against corrupt and dishonest practices of persons in authority wherever we find it.  We must speak out against exploitation of the poor and powerless wherever we find it.  We must speak out against the destruction of our mother earth wherever we find it.  We must speak out against crooked politicians wherever we find them. 

We cannot go along with the swindlers of our time, who will tell us: “To be successful, we must be ruthless and cheat in business and in elections,”  “Pre-marital and extra-marital sex  are okay, acceptable.  It is the in-thing,” “Having a mistress is a status symbol.”

We must speak out like the little boy in the story. We are in the eyes of some countries as the most corrupt country in Asia.  The problem is not only that we have so many dishonest and corrupt officials, the greater problem is that we have so many blind people who keep on electing them into office!

We gathered here today to remind ourselves of our calling:  to be a light to our world and a salt for our society. What is our response?

LIGHT OF THE WORLD
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