Christ the True Light

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

39548332842_bdd46e3779_w

The prayer for the blessing of candles begins with these words: ‘O Lord Jesus Christ, the True Light, Who enlightens every man that comes into the world…’  Jesus Christ is the light who came into the world (John 1:9) to deliver us all from sin and death.  In the early Church, Clement of Alexandria

… likes to present this deliverance in the imagery of illumination by Christ, the sun of the new creation: 

Upon us who lay buried in darkness and shut up in the shadow of death (cf Is 9:2; Mt 4:16; Lk 1:79) a light shone forth from heaven, purer than the sun and sweeter than the life of earth.  That light is life eternal, and whatsoever things partake of it, live.

8186713316_ee746bea15_w

But night shrinks back from the light, and setting through fear, gives place to the day of the Lord.  The universe has become a sleepless light and the setting has turned into a rising.  This is what was meant by ‘new creation’ (Ga 6:15).  for he who rides over the universe, ‘the sun of righteousness’ (Ml 4:2), visits mankind impartially, imitating his Father, who ‘causes his sun to rise upon all men’ (Mt 5:45), and sprinkles them all with the dew of truth.  He it was who changed the setting into a rising, and crucified death into life; who having snatched man out of the jaws of destruction raised him to the sky, transplanting corruption to the soil of incorruption, and transforming earth into heaven (Protrept. XI:144,1-4).

51376286338_48d018b137_w

In this passage a great many images are combined.  Christ is the sun of the new creation, the sun of righteousness proclaimed by the prophet Malachi.  The light of this sun is a perpetual east, an unfailing light which knows no setting.  This light Clement sees symbolized in the Lord’s day, Sunday, which for him is at one and the same time the eternal day of the generation of the Logos, the day after the sabbath, when Christ was raised from the dead, and the eschatological eighth day which lies beyond the cosmic week (Esc. Ex Theod. 63,I; Strom. VI,16:138,1).  This light gives supernatural knowledge of God…”  (Jean Danielou, GOSPEL MESSAGE AND HELLENISTIC CULTURE, p 186)