Here and Now in the Light

March 11, 2018

In the Gospel Jesus is teaching Nicodemus.  As a teacher He uses the things that are already a part of tradition, in this case, He uses the story of the servant and how it foreshadowed what Jesus Himself would do on the cross.  What Jesus did on the cross would bring everything to light and into the light. Later in the proclamation of today’s reading Jesus will tell Nicodemus people preferred the darkness to the light.  In the here and now of Lent we are invited to look at how light and darkness both play a role in our lives.


Jesus is clear about His mission.  The Gospel states God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world would be saved through Him.  In our fast-paced world it may be difficult to reflect upon ourselves.  We are caught up in a lot of rhetoric at times that is very condemning.  Our political system has failed us; the condemning of each side is so relentless that it becomes difficult to watch and to know the truth.  Many times we feel condemned and shamed by the sins of our past.  At times we condemn others we don’t agree with.  Sometimes we also hold ourselves condemned by our past sins and the darkness in our lives.  We must ask ourselves, do we prefer where we are?  Would we rather sit in the blame game than actually change?


Jesus invites us to the light.  Jesus came into the world to be the light, to testify to the light and to have the light overcome and overwhelm the darkness.  This includes the darkness of our own lives.  It means the darkness we hold onto.  I heard a homily on my first trip to Africa back in 1988 which I never forgot.  It was on the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist.  The young Jesuit priest looked at the seminarians and fellow priests after the Proclamation of the Gospel and asked us, who is it that you are keeping chained up in your life?  Who and what have you imprisoned?  I never forgot those questions. What have we imprisoned in our lives?  What have we chained up?  Have we chained up prejudices, words, other people? In the here and now we are invited to prefer the light and bring things into the light for healing.  Jesus can overcome that light; He can overcome our sin, but we must be truthful as to what it is we keep in our jail cells.


To truly believe in the light and to truly believe Jesus is the light who forgives, we must walk into the deepest, darkest parts of our own lives and allow the light to transform us.  We must welcome Jesus there and know He will love us, heal us and make us well.  It is a risk and it can be terrifying.  Many prefer the darkness of the way things are rather than the transformation of the light.  In the book “The Choice, Embrace the Possible” Dr. Edith Eve Eger, a Holocaust survivor, tells her story and how she chose to live.  It is quite a book.  One of the things she says is that “our painful experiences aren’t a liability-they’re a gift. They give us perspective and meaning, an opportunity to find our unique purpose and our strength.”   In the Gospel Jesus says let the wheat and weeds grow together because if we take out one, we might uproot the other.  We are on a journey of light and darkness, sin and grace.  We are persons created this way.  To live in the light is to trust it and allow our uniqueness to shine forth past our sins, past our prejudices, past our very selves.  In the here and now, the here is the now.  We must step out of the darkness we love and feel secure enough to move to the light where the Son of God is glorified

The here is the now, the light is the place,

Jesus is waiting,

Reverend John J. Ouper