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Ralph Mcloud and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hold Up the Light… Hold Up the Light

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

“John testified further, saying, "I saw the Spirit …” (Jn. 1:29-34)

Hold Up the Light was a Gospel song made popular by the New Jersey Mass Choir. The melody encourages us to “hold up the light.” What does “hold up the light” in 2023 mean? In a world that seems so dark, so dim, so gloomy and obscure, what can my little flicker of light do? Amid war, famine, racism, violence, and intergenerational poverty, what can my little spark do?

John B could light up a room. He would walk with a smile, ask about the health of each person, and took the time to shake everybody’s hand. It didn’t matter whether there were five or fifty people, and after each greeting the person he encountered, they felt a bit lighter, a bit happier and saw the light that John B shared. John B was autistic and hadn’t read any self-help books or how to be popular. He got his light by knowing of and in the appreciation for God’s grace and goodness. No theology degrees or advanced studies, John B's

lived catchphrase was “God is good!” It did not matter what the situation was or who the person was, John would listen to them and respond God is good. John removed the bushel basket from his light several years ago, and the world is better because of it.

Scripture invites us all to do our part in dispelling the darkness and shining our light. Insulating ourselves with the light of comfort, ease, and coziness, our light may never be seen. Recall the light of the One who entered a world of darkness, born in a stable to an unwed mother in a foreign land, labored with his bare hands, hung out with sinners, tax collectors, and ultimately died between thieves. His light continues to shine on all the world and his spirit inspires to this day those who find themselves in darkness. His light heals, affirms, cures, educates, stimulates, and liberates. While few would question the light of Christ, Jesus himself invites us to radiate that light to shine upon others, radiating that Christ's light for others may be literally the difference between light or darkness, happiness or sadness, or ultimately, life and death.

This weekend we celebrate the 93rd birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. Rev. King was a person who embraced the light of Jesus and shared it with his small church in Georgia, with his community, with bus riders in Montgomery, with marchers in Selma, with oppressive forces in DC, and a hurting, dark world. A world darkened with the scrouge of racism, the dim environs of war, the gloomy, dreary, murky darkness of apathy and fear. This darkness still resonates today, but it isn’t as dim as we have been blessed with the light of this drum major of justice! A person who understood the importance of getting his wick lit with the light of Christ and sharing it with the world. In doing so, he modeled his heavenly inspiration and was able to use his light to warm, to illuminate, to expose. He used God’s word and Jesus’ lived examples of how to be a brother and how to be a sister with love without reservation.

This weekend let’s read and reread the readings of the day and ask ourselves, is my lantern lit? If it is, who am I warming with it? Who am I illuminating? What evil am I exposing so it cannot harm others?

“But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” Ephesians 5:13

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

“God is Good”John B

Author: Ralph McCloud is the Director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), an anti-poverty program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. CCHD is the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. CCHD works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities. It has a complementary mission of educating people on poverty and its causes. This dual pastoral strategy of education for justice and helping people who are poor speak and act for themselves reflects the mandate of the Scriptures and the principles of Catholic social teaching.

See Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. come alive at Loyola Marymount University.

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Ralph - This is a wonderful reflection that will stick with me for some time. Thanks also for reminding us of that simple yet powerful Gospel tune.

- Donna Grimes


Is my lantern lit? What a wonderful weekend to ponder and answer this question. Thanks for the reflection.


Darlene Howard


Marla Sanders
Marla Sanders
Jan 12, 2023

Ralph McCloud,

Your beautiful reflection reminds me that it doesn't matter if our light is liken to that of John B or Martin Luther King, Jr. The light is God shining through us. He wants His light to shine before men. Through our smiles, compassion and good deeds, others will come to know the love of God

Thank you for this beautiful reflection!


Everyone, be of service this weekend in honor of Reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday!

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