Inspired by the light

By: By Barbara Roedel

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 22

2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23; Psalm 137:1-2,3,4-5,6; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21. (When the Second Scrutiny is celebrated with the elect, these readings may be used: 1 Samuel 16:1b,6-7,10-13a; Psalm 23:1-3a,3b-4,5,6; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41)

Spring has finally arrived and we’re beginning to enjoy more sunny days and fewer overcast gray days. I joyfully embrace the extra hour of light that daylight savings time added to our evenings. Flowers are breaking through the soil, leaf buds are beginning to open on the trees. All nature is searching for the light after a long winter. I wholeheartedly welcome spring and feel energized in the light and warmth. In today’s Gospel reading, we listen in on a conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus about light and darkness.

God calls us to live in the light but the Gospel states that people prefer darkness. It seems as if something deep within us wants to hide, flee in secrecy and safety to the darkness. Are we afraid our sins will be exposed? If a searchlight penetrated our lives, it would expose our true situation — namely, that we don’t always make the right decisions or do the right thing.

We don’t have to look far to find evil. Jesus described evil as what comes up out of the human heart (Mark 7:25). When we gaze upon the crucifix we see the terrible truth of what humans are capable of — the deep evil within that can kill and destroy another person. The crucifix is the epitome of evil.

At the same time, in the cross we also see the depth of God’s love, of God’s forgiveness and mercy. Jesus on the cross reveals a God who loves us even in the midst of the darkest evil. The cross juxtaposes the darkness of evil human actions and the brilliance of divine light.

God is rich in mercy, has great love for us, raised us up, and seated us with Christ in glory. This is the dynamic image of God St. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians.

God is the one who initiates salvation. Salvation is not only about the future but is here with us now. We are saved now. Both grace and faith are gifts from God and we are responding to God’s initiative, God’s handiwork. We are called to do “good works” in response to the magnanimous love of God.

What calls you to the light? Look within yourself and ask God to illuminate even the darkest recesses of your heart, confident of God’s loving gaze upon you which empowers good works.

What calls you away from the light? What do you need to let go of to be able to respond to God’s grace?

The light of God has dawned upon us in Jesus Christ. Allow that light to energize and inspire you as we continue our Lenten journey.

Barbara Roedel is the pastoral associate at St. Pius X Parish in Rock Island.

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