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Initiated into the Path of Light

by Michael Ketterhagen

“Share your bread with the hungry,

shelter the oppressed and the homeless,

clothe the naked when you see them,

and do not turn your back on your own.

Then, your light will shine forth like the dawn….

-Isaiah 58:7-8

“The just [hu]man is a light in darkness.”

-Psalm 112:4a

“You are the salt of the earth….

You are the light of the world.”

-Matthew 5;13-14

With these readings from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, I witnessed an initiation of a child into the spiritual life of Christ today. In the Orthodox and Catholic traditions of Christianity initiation happens through the effort and will of the parents of the child. The child doesn’t consciously know what’s going on, but in any case it is a significant initiation rite into the spiritual journey of life. It is called baptism in Christianity.

Later in the child’s early life, instruction follows about what that initiation means. Then in the Catholic Tradition when the young person becomes old enough to begin to understand what that spiritual initiation means another part of the initiation rite happens. It is confirmation and the young person, aged 16 or 17, whether they know it or not, is making a conscious decision to live that spiritual life, that spiritual journey throughout their physical life, that journey of Lord Jesus Christ.

In other Christian denominations this initiation, this baptism, happens when the person is older and is making an adult decision to live out the spiritual life of the Christ. They, like young adult Catholic Christians, commit themselves to living the life of Christ in the physical world. That’s what the scripture readings focused on during this morning’s child baptism.

Many spiritual traditions have a ritual of spiritual life initiation. The Native Americans call it the “vision quest.” The Yoga Tradition initiates its followers into a spiritual practice of meditation through the assigning of a meditation mantra. Each of these traditions is saying that this individual person is now going to be living a different sort of life, a life focused on their desire to become one with the Great Spirit, the Source of Life, the Light of the World. Each tradition directs the spiritual neophytes to follow specific steps toward their union with The Divine Source of Life. Each believes that the Light of the Divine is with them and leading them. All the practitioner, the young adult needs to do now is live and love as that Light dictates.

Today, our young Catholic initiate, just a few weeks old, was commissioned to become another “Light of Christ” in the world, just like all initiated yogis are commissioned to live like that same “Light within.” All people initiated into the spiritual path are commissioned to

“share [their] bread with the hungry,

shelter the oppressed and the homeless,

clothe the naked when [they] see them, …

not turn [their] backs on [their] own.”

I pray to the divinity in you!

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