Imagine what and how our world and relationships would be if we all were content just to shine the light that God puts in our unique hearts? If only we shined our own lights, we would be more confident, more joyful, even more productive, and giving to life as much as we receive from her! But often we are caught up in jealousy, envy, greed and striving to shine other people’s lights rather than ours. The truth is that no matter how you try to shine another’s light, you will never succeed; and even if you appear to have succeeded, you will never find genuine happiness or joy because, the light you try to shine does not come from your soul neither does it resonate back to your soul. It is a mere appearance that holds no substance. Andrew is Samantha’s older brother. There are five in the family. But Andrew always feels that Samantha is more gifted than him, that she is loved more by people and that their parents always paid more attention to her. The other three did not quite care about the feud between Andrew and Samantha. Samantha went on to become a chemical engineer, got married and lives with her husband and three daughters. Andrew, consumed with envy over Samantha, is paralyzed. He could not finish college and finds it hard to keep a job. He blames his woes on his parents. The light in him keeps getting dimmer and dimmer because he desires to shine Samantha’s light. So much life is wasted trying to be jealous or envy of others, or wanting to be who you are not meant to be. That is why the children’s song is full of wisdom: row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream! You can only row your boat and not another’s, and that is how you can merrily realize life’s dream for you.

John the Baptist and Jesus Christ are cousins. But notice how confidently John rows his boat and shines his unique light from that boat. His light is only that of a messenger, lighting the way for his cousin who is mightier than him. Listen to his words: he is mightier than I, and I am unworthy to untie the straps of his sandals; I baptize with water, he will baptize with the Holy Spirit! Those are the words of one who knows what his light is and does not in any way envy his cousin’s mighty power. He is deeply free and truly joyful. He does not need to impress anyone or pretend to be someone else! Each person is anointed with the Holy Spirit to shine the unique light of God destined for us. Jesus Christ knows his own light, and steadily and consistently shines it!

The joy of this third Sunday of Advent comes from the deepest freedom that God brings to us in Jesus Christ. But concretely, it is the freedom that comes from shining the unique light of God in our souls and rowing the particular boat that God gives to you and me. Then we can truly praise God from our hearts and praise His light in others. Wouldn’t our relationships be great if it were to be so? Then you will no longer feel as if others are taking something away from you. Dearest Lord, give me the grace of this true freedom so I can so faithfully shine the light you put in my soul! Amen