Harry Potter, Light, & The Church

Spoiler Alert: This post discusses the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

At the end of the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore is killed by Snape. At the time, you believe that Snape is in the service of Lord Voldemort and that this act is one of evil. Bellatrix casts the Dark Mark into the black sky over Hogwarts as the shocked students and staff gather around Dumbledore’s still body. One of their own, one of their most powerful, has been taken from them. One of their own has seemingly betrayed them. At this moment, darkness seems to have won.

Within a few moments, Professor McGonagall raises her wand to the heavens, casting the spell lumos: light. The tiny light radiating from her wand seems but a pinprick against the darkness enveloping the school. But slowly, one by one, those around her also raise their wands. Each person casts their own light into the darkness and slowly, it is dispelled.

Of all the words used to describe Jesus, my favorite is light. John 1:4 says, “In him was life and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness and yet the darkness did not overcome it.” Prophesying Christ’s birth centuries before, Isaiah proclaims that “the people walking in darkness [will] have seen a great light; a light [will have] dawned on those living in the land of darkness.”

This scene gives me chills and makes me cry every time I see it because it reminds me of Jesus. And it reminds me of the potential power of the Church. Jesus is light. Jesus passed a bit of himself over to us through his spirit and called us to be as him to those around us. We’re called to reflect his light on the world by becoming more like him each and every day. We’re called to dispel the darkness.

This seems a daunting task, does it not? Especially today, when the darkness seems so unrelenting. But let us look at our scene again. McGonagall alone, powerful as she was, couldn’t shift the darkness on her own. Only through the united actions of those around her could the darkness be broken. Think about that for a moment – the people who surrounded her weren’t all fully-trained witches and wizards. Some were, like her, experienced enough in their skills to pass them down to the next generation. Some had been learning under their training for years and were nearly ready to go out on their own. Some were at the very beginning of their education, with very few skills of their own. But they all knew that one spell: lumos. And it took the work of each of them to cast the darkness aside.

The book of Hebrews speaks of the “cloud of witnesses” that has gone on before us, lending its knowledge to us in their wake. 1 Corinthians discusses the Church as being like a body with each part dutifully performing its unique purpose. When we think to dispel the darkness, it can be comforting to think about these things. We are not the first, nor will we likely be the last. We were preceded in our calling by many men and women of faith who leave to us their writings, memories, learning. We have the opportunity to participate now in a united front of believers, scattered all across the world, each with a role to play. But we should all be seeking to spread the same thing: light. And together, as one, we can do so.

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