The Church as Lampstand

Msgr. Pope quotes the following from Maximus the Confessor:

This Word is most unwilling to be kept under a bushel; it wills to be set in a high place, upon the sublime beauty of the Church. For while the Word was hidden under the bushel, that is, under the letter of the law, it deprived all men of eternal light. For then it could not give spiritual contemplation to men striving to strip themselves of a sensuality that is illusory, capable only of deceit, and able to perceive only decadent bodies like their own. But the Word wills to be set upon a lampstand, the Church, where rational worship is offered in the Spirit, that it may enlighten all men. For the letter, when it is not spiritually understood, bears a carnal sense only, which restricts its expression and does not allow the real force of what is written to reach the hearer’s mind. [From an inquiry addressed to Thalassius by Saint Maximus the Confessor, abbot (Quaest. 63: PG 90, 667-670)]

He then goes on to explain in greater depth the meaning of the Flesh, the Passion of the Lord, and the Role of the Church. Some highlights:

Biblically the “flesh” is more than just our body, it is more generally our rebellious sin-nature. It is that part of us that is resentful of any instruction, limits or being told what what to do. It doesn’t want to have a thing to do with God and prefers the darkness to light.

And therefore God continues to speak forth his Word. He continues to let the light of His truth shine forth. He has a passion to call his wayward children home. Too easily we are  like the foolish prodigal who had wandered off. Yet the Father never stopped looking. And when the foolish prodigal took one step back, the Father took two, and started running.

Yes, the Church is but the lampstand on which God sets his Light. It is God’s Light that must shine. We can do no other. She is the pulpit from which he proclaims His Word.
St Peter richly combines Word and Light when he says, we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic Word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
And St. Paul adds, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Cor 4:2)

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