In the ferial gospel for today we hear St. Mark's version of Jesus' word on the lamp and the lampstand. Nobody lights a lamp to hide it away somewhere under a bed or a basket, but instead puts it on a stand, so that, as St. Matthew puts it, it may give light to all in the house.
This word is a good example of how we sometimes miss the richness of the scripture because we jump too quickly to a shallow moral sense. As soon as we hear the word, we go immediately into an examination of conscience, asking ourselves if we have hidden away the light of grace that God has given us, or whether we have sufficiently shared it with others. Before we know it, we miss the good news of the gospel because we are beating our breasts and saying Acts of Contrition.
Not that this is our fault; preachers too often do this on our behalf, as they throw in some vague and shallow encouragement to bolster the shallow exegesis.
Sitting with the word, we realize that is a word first of all about God. It is the eternal God who has lit a lamp from himself in the generation of the Son from the Father. In the incarnation of this only-begotten Word, the Holy Spirit conceives this Light on the lampstand of the humanity of Christ, from which all creation is bathed in divine light. From every Mass at which he is offered and from every tabernacle where he rests, the Light-lampstand who is the risen Christ shines out to anyone willing to become a little mirror, re-flecting and re-presenting the gospel light to others.
From here it is safer and more fruitful to turn to the moral demand of the word. The Light is already on the lampstand; it is only ours to join in its work of enlightening all in the house by cleaning the dust of distraction and the grime of sin from the little mirror that is our soul.