Light Bulb


The legend is that when Thomas Edison was inventing the light bulb for commercial use it took him a thousand tries to get it right. He was being interviewed by somebody, and they said to him, “What was it like to fail 999 times?” Thomas Edison looked at them and said, “I didn’t fail 999 times. There were 999 steps to make the light bulb actually work.” The same is true for all of us often times. Sometimes we think of ourselves as failing or as failures, but it is just taking another time to try to get it right.

We hear in the second reading today where St. Paul says, “I am confident of this, that the one who has begun the good work in you will bring it to completion.” We’re a work in progress, right?

So God is working with you, and he will bring the good work that he has begun in you to completion. By your very baptism, you were created in the image and likeness of God. So God is going to complete the good work that he has begun in you.

When I was researching Thomas Edison, I came across the three things he needed to do in order to make the light bulb work. As I was reading it, I thought, “This is a really good application of Advent – what it means for us to be celebrating the season of Advent.”

I want you to think about yourselves as being the light bulb, and the three things that are necessary for us to become the light of Christ in this world of darkness.

The first is that Thomas Edison had to create a durable, incandescent material. He had to find a material that had the ability to actually light up.

That’s the good news! You have the ability to actually light up. From our baptism, we’ve become that material.

The second thing is that he had to discover a way to eliminate all the air from the bulb. He had to create a vacuum. For us, that means the removal of sin – having absolutely no sin. Sin is what distracts or keeps our life from glowing. The idea is Advent is a time of turning away from sin and asking God to cleanse us from our sin.

The third component is that he had to find a filament material of high resistance. He had to find a small material that was extremely resistant and strong. All of us go through life, and we suffer sometimes – we suffer a lot. But through the suffering, we become resilient, we become strong.

The reality is, Advent is the season of seeking the light in darkness, the season of seeking Christ. We are supposed to be Christ in the world today. We are supposed to be the light to those in darkness. But we’re a work in progress, right?

So, God is working with you, and he will not fail to complete the good work that he has begun. As we enter deeply into the mysteries of this liturgy and deeply into Advent, know that you are called to be the light. You need to be an incandescent material, a material that is able to light up.

There needs to be the elimination of any sin in our lives. We need to become a filament material of high resistance, that through our suffering we will be made very resistant.

In the season of Advent, know that God will complete the good work that he has begun in you.

About the Author Fr. Michael Denk

Fr. Michael was ordained into priesthood in the Diocese of Cleveland on May 12, 2007. He is dedicated to helping others encounter Christ through the celebration of the Eucharist, preaching, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spiritual direction, and prayer.

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I'm Father Michael J. Denk, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. I am a contributor of content to The Prodigal Father Productions, Inc., a non-profit corporation functioning in accord with the traditions and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The corporation and I are separate, it doesn't speak for me, the parish, or on behalf of the Diocese of Cleveland, and I do not speak for it.