The Lord is my Light and Salvation – John the Serene

John the Serene was a bishop of Naples and Early Church Father who here reflects on the famous first verse from Psalm 27: The Lord is my Light and my Salvation.  Who shall I fear?

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? How great was that servant who knew how he was given light, whence it came, and what sort of man he was when he was favored by that light. The light he saw was not that which fades at dusk, but the light which no eye has seen. Souls brightened by this light do not fall into sin or stumble on vice.

Our Lord said: Walk while you have the light in you. What other light did he mean but himself? For it was he who said. I came as a light into the world, so that those who have eyes may not see and the blind may receive the light. The Lord then is our light the sun of justice and righteousness, who has shone on his Catholic Church spread throughout the world. The prophet spoke as a figure of the Church when he cried: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The spiritual man who has been thus illumined does not limp or leave the path, but bears all things. Glimpsing our true country from afar, he puts up with adversities; he is not saddened by the things of time, but finds his strength in God. He lowers his pride and endures, possessing patience through humility. That true light which enlightens every man who comes into the world bestows itself on those who reverence it, shining where it wills, on whom it wills, and revealing itself according to the will of God the Son.

When this light begins to shine upon the man who sat in darkness and the shadow of death, in the darkness of evil and the shadow of sin, he is shocked, he calls himself to account, repents of his misdeeds in shame, and says: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

Great is this salvation, my brethren, which fears neither sickness nor lethargy and disregards pain. We should then in the fullest sense not only with our voice but with our very soul cry out, The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? If he enlightens and saves me, whom shall I fear? Even though the dark shadows of evil suggestions crowd about, The Lord is my light.

They can approach, but cannot prevail; they can lay siege to our heart, but cannot conquer it. Though the blindness of concupiscence assails us, again we say: The Lord is my light. For he is our strength; he gives himself to us and we give ourselves to him. Hasten to this physician while you can, or you may not be able to find him when you want him.

This excerpt on Psalm 27 by  John the Serene ( Sermo 7: PLS 4, 785-786) appears in the Roman Catholic Office of Readings for Thursday of the 3rd week of ordinary time.  The accompanying biblical reading is taken from Deuteronomy 30:1-2.

  • Michael J Sloboda
    Posted at 20:28h, 27 January

    Is he the same man as John the Silent (454-558), a bishop in Armenia, who lived to age 104 ?

  • Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
    Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
    Posted at 23:32h, 27 January

    No, this author was actually a bishop of Naples in the 9th century and is called the “serene” or “peaceful” or “peacemaker” apparently because he helped to mediate a peace treaty between Naples and the neighboring Dutchy of Benevento. We will be updating our site shortly with some biographical information on him.

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