What is fascinating about this passage in Mark is that it falls in line with a string of parables from Mark. The parable preceding and following today’s passage talk about seeds. Seeds are used as a way to talk about the Kingdom of God, or God’s reign, and how this kingdom takes root in people’s lives.
In today’s gospel we hear in four short verses something more about the Kingdom of God. The imagery shifts from seeds to lamps and what we have verses do not have. I wonder what it says about the Kingdom of God that a lamp is not placed under the bed where no one can see it.
For me, this Gospel talks about how we are to use the gifts and resources that have been entrusted to us from God. We are all like lamps in that we carry the light of Christ within us. Our responsibility then is to shed that light broadly and in so doing, the Kingdom of God spreads to a world that needs to hear the good, life transforming news of God’s radical love for them.
Jesus tells us, rather orders us to pay attention and to listen to what he is saying. There is more than just spreading light in the world that is going on. The more important part to the message is we are called to give. We are called to be generous with what has been entrusted to us. I wonder what it says about the kingdom of God when we are asked to be generous.
When we are generous and share the resources entrusted to us, we receive not just the same amount we share, we receive even more. The Kingdom of God and God’s grace is not just about keeping things even. No God’s generosity and love is overflowing and abundant in our lives. When it comes to God, no matter how much blood sweat and tears we shed, God sheds more. No matter how generous we may be, God says, “I see your generosity, and I will raise you so much more.” The thing is, despite our best efforts we cannot out love God and we cannot out do God with generosity. What a marvelous thought about God and the Kingdom of God or God’s reign in our world! What does this say about the Kingdom of God?
Our Gospel speaks to the nature of God and how God’s reign is rooted in our everyday lives. Since we cannot out do or outpace God with generosity and love, we now begin to understand the ‘limitlessness’ of God. Think about it. Do we know of any limits to God? Every time we put limits on God, we quickly discover that we have more to learn about ourselves and God.
The moment we believe that we have discovered and learned all we can about our faith and God we lose the mystery and awesomeness of God. We live in a world that demands signs and proof in order for something to be true. The problem with proof is that all of a sudden we risk our faith being explained away. Before long, we realize that there is no longer room for the new in our lives. We all know too many people that have lost that spark in their lives. Perhaps we have been there ourselves where we simply go through the motions of each day without discovering the connections between what we do and the value they have for us and others. Before long, like so many, we feel alone, inadequate and wonder what the purpose of our lives is.
God desperately wants to reach us and to use us to be the hands and feet of God in the world. When we allow ourselves to be open to the possibility that God knows no limits we discover our faith draws us deeper into an understanding of ourselves and the nature of God. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable before God, to surrender to God’s embrace and to be the agents God uses in the world means that we live into what we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy Kingdom Come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This is about God’s will, not our own.
It is the ‘limitlessness’ of God that teaches us again of the abundance of God and that we have more than enough for what we need with more to share. I know this to be true in my life that whenever I give of myself or the resources entrusted to me, I receive far much more in return. Giving is contagious and makes us feel good. It feels good to be able to participate in our faith and help make this world, God’s world, a better place for all. So do not be afraid to share the light of Christ within you. We are not called to share our faith in secret behind closed doors, but rather to bring it out into the world, in the ordinary of everyday life.