"Christ lives, he has overcome death, he has overcome all these powers. We live in this certainty, in this freedom, and in this joy." (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 12 XI 2008)
"Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks the truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie." (Blessed John Paul II, Canonisation of Edith Stein, 11 X 1998)

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Light Gives Heat - Jars of Clay - Music with Meaning


This is a song from Jars of Clay, a really beautiful song with a profound message. The song begins with the angelic voices of the African Children's Choir singing in L'Ugandan. They sing the chorus refrain, which is: "You treat me like I'm blind, setting fires around houses on the hill but light gives heat."

What this song does is set the priorities in the correct way, beginning with those who are receiving the help. It then goes on to describe why so many international aid projects fail: "Heroes from the west; We don't know you, we know best." A type of arrogance that must be overcome.

But the beauty is that in the end those who have come ask the poor to show them how to really live: "Will you teach us how to love?; To see the things you see; Walk the road you walked; Feel the pain that you feel; At your feet I kneel; I want to see you shine; See your light not mine; 'Cause light gives heat; Your light gives heat." 

When we understand that the poor can teach us more than we can teach them, especially about Gospel values, then we begin to enter into the most fruitful relationships. That is when the interaction between the "developed" and "developing" worlds begin to discover anew what it means to be human.

This is the beauty of Christianity. The "developed" world is motivated by Love to reach out to help the material needs of their brothers, and in the interactions (rightly ordered) they receive the Truth of what Love really is. That is why you so often hear charity workers in materially poor countries say that they received much more than they could ever give.

Remember too that "Man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life." (Gaudium et Spes, 63). When companies are making profits and still are retrenching individuals, then we have proof that this has been forgotten.

"Segregate my mind, burning crosses from your fear... but light gives heat". A fair warning in the song. Let us not mistake our cultural practices and ways of "Western" living for Christianity. Christianity is much deeper and transcends these things. We should not expect others to become Christian due to fear of hell, but out of Love for Truth, and each other.

To close I would like to quote from Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict's Encyclical:
"Openness to God makes us open towards our brothers and sisters and towards an understanding of life as a joyful task to be accomplished in the spirit of solidarity. On the other hand, ideological rejection of God and an atheism of indifference, oblivious to human values, constitute some of the chief obstacles to development today."


  1. I love this song from Jars of Clay, always loved the choir voices in it. Thanks for sharing the quote from Caritas in Veritate. It fits perfectly. Greetings from Ecuador.

  2. It is a pleasure, jars of clay are capable of really inspiring songs :-)