There’s an often told Jewish tale about a rabbi asking his students how they can tell a new day has dawned upon the earth. One student said, “Well, you can tell it is a new day when there is enough light to see the difference between an apple tree and a pear tree.” It was a good answer but not the right answer. Another student said, “Rabbi, you can tell it’s a new day when you can look down the road and tell whether or not the animal up ahead is a fox or a dog.” Again, a good answer but not the right answer. The rabbi then looked at his students and said: “It’s a new day when there is enough light that allows you to see the face of another human being, and looking upon that face, you see your brother or sister. Until that happens . . . it is still night.”
Most of us have lived through various times of darkness: wars, civil unrest, violent protests, and we have seen the results: fear, hatred, mistrust. It is very difficult to build an inclusive community in such an environment. Fear of those who are different than us causes us to think, speak, and act differently.
During such times we have a responsibility to model a different way of living, acting, thinking, and speaking. It is not OK to hate, it is not OK to be divisive in our speech, God does not intend the world to be divided up into an, ‘Us and Them’ mentality and so long as we choose to live our lives with that kind of mentality, we will never be able to walk in the light of the SON, who taught us to live differently, act differently, think differently, and speak differently.
In a time of turmoil we are called to recognize the face of our sisters and our brothers, or else we will always live in darkness. We all remember the song, ‘This Little Light of Mine,’ and we are certainly living in a time when we need to let God’s light shine. Remember the opening verses in the Gospel of John, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5). Let your light shine.