: this is how the Church’s
tradition speaks of the great gift brought by Je-
sus. In John’s Gospel, Christ says of himself: “I
have come as light into the world, that whoev-
er believes in me may not remain in darkness”
12:46). Saint Paul uses the same image: “God
who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has
shone in our hearts” (
4:6). The pagan world,
which hungered for light, had seen the growth of
the cult of the sun god,
, invoked each
day at sunrise. Yet though the sun was born anew
each morning, it was clearly incapable of casting
its light on all of human existence. The sun does
not illumine all reality; its rays cannot penetrate to
the shadow of death, the place where men’s eyes
are closed to its light. “No one — Saint Justin
Martyr writes — has ever been ready to die for
his faith in the sun”.
Conscious of the immense
horizon which their faith opened before them,
Christians invoked Jesus as the true sun “whose
rays bestow life”.
To Martha, weeping for the
death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus said: “Did I
not tell you that if you believed, you would see
the glory of God?” (
11:40). Those who be-
lieve, see; they see with a light that illumines their
Dialogus cum Tryphone Iudaeo
, 121, 2: PG 6, 758.
, IX: PG 8, 195.