Lenten Reflection - Mark 4:21-24 by Nick Litterski
"21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.” 24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.” Mark 4:21-24
There are three main messages here. I'll explore each in it's own paragraph, and conclude with a reflection.
"Do you bring in a lamp to put under a bowl?" I'm going to take the metaphor of the lamp and say it means "consciousness," or grace. It's the ability God has given us to see things clearly, as they are. When this lamp is put under a basket, it means we are hiding our true ability to see and speak the truth. When Fannie Lou Hamer was marching for civil rights and organizing to help people of color vote in the south in the 1950's and 60's (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fannie_Lou_Hamer), she was singing the song "This Little Light of Mine," which gave encouragement to the people she was helping to organize to stand up for their own rights. Why were these poor share-croppers able to sing with such great joy? Consider this question.
"Whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open." These words of Jesus demand that we go beyond the first step, of using our consciousness to see the truth. Instead, we are called to "disclose that which is hidden." This is a radical teaching. On a personal level this can mean sharing our feelings with a co-worker or loved one even when it is difficult to do so. Emotions repressed can return stronger than before. We have all experienced the return of anger that we "tried not to feel."
When read in the context of Jesus' ministry, where he was talking out against the harsh practices of the religious and secular leadership of his day, I can apply this teaching to our modern day political situation. If we don't stand against the injustices that have been perpetrated by leaders of our government, against laws that dis-empower the weak and needy, we are not using our light in the way it was meant.
It takes great courage to speak truth to power, to stand up for the weakest and most vulnerable. Jesus knew this, and here he invoked a variation of the Golden Rule, or Law of Karma, to comfort those who were receiving his message. He says "with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." I like to think of this as meaning, the more light you shine on a situation, the more light you will receive. Standing in the truth, your own truth, takes great courage and brings great rewards. When those impoverished southern black folk were told not to vote, fired from their jobs, spit upon and beaten in the streets, they did not lose heart. They knew that the truth was on their side, that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."
Let's take comfort from the fact that we are given the gift to discern right from wrong, that if we use this faculty and let it guide our actions, we will receive our measure and more.
In conclusion, God is love. Love exists as an action that is first felt as an intention. This is a communication from your head to your heart. This pathway is alive with neuro-electrical energy, actual light. So you could say that consciousness itself is light, is God. Jesus is telling us to wear God on our sleeves. To put our heart first in every action we do, that we will be rewarded with the clarity that comes from living a wholehearted life. To charge our light's batteries we need to quiet down, meditate, pray. This act reveals to us what we already are, quieting the million distractions that are NOT God. Once the batteries are charged, it is time to let the light shine. Putting this into action will look different for everybody, and the important thing is to start where you are.