Since the theme of our liturgy for the 4th Sunday of Lent is LIGHT, allow me to quote to you some verses about light in the Gospel of John:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:9)
And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. (John 3:19)
Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5)
While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light. (John 12:36)
Inspired by these beautiful verses, we understand, for example, why those, who are pro abortion up to the end of the ninth month, do not want at all to have women who consider terminating their pregnancy looking at the ultrasound images of life in their wombs.
We understand why those engaged in shady dealings do not want to leave any paper trails. We understand why criminals hide thoroughly their identity in the course of a heist and alter the license plates of their vehicles.
But, of course, before we rush to condemn these obvious “lovers of darkness,” we should recall the things that we chose and still choose to do in secret, away from anyone’s probing eyes.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come towards the light. (John 3:20)
Perhaps we should react to the quotes from John’s Gospel about light by wondering why, even children as young as three or four, do certain things in secret and, then, go into hiding or cover up their misdeeds as best they can. It is a primordial tendency inherited from our progenitors. After disobeying God’s order not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam hid himself in the futile attempt at averting God’s scrutiny.
He (Adam) answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10)
But, today, Jesus reminds Nicodemus, and all of us with him, to consider that our choosing to do certain things in darkness and, then, to hide doesn’t make sense.
We cannot forget a most certain fact: For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5)
Yet, something sinister possesses us to yield to temptation forgetting that God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
In the context of light and darkness, day and night, we should pick up another subtle message that John offers us in our Gospel passage. (3:14-21) Nicodemus feels safe only by going towards the light that is Jesus under cover of darkness. Full of gentleness and compassion, ever so gradually, Jesus enables Nicodemus to adjust to the amazing and blinding light of what the Father did to lead His wayward children out of the darkness of their sins to the freedom of being and acting as children of the light.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. (John 3:16)
The same Gospel of John informs us that it was only after the Son of Man (and Son of God) was lifted up on the cross that Nicodemus felt safe to walk into the blinding light of God’s love for the whole world.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. (John 19:39)
The Season of Lent is tailored made to lead to the blinding light of God’s love all those who will be baptized during the Easter Vigil and all those, including us, who should already be walking in that light. During this grace-filled season we should shift from the fear that our wickedness be exposed to the joy of knowing and relishing the intoxicating beauty of freedom, of goodness, of a conduct always becoming of our lofty stature as adopted children of the Father of light.
Isn’t it tragic and comical at the same time that, on occasion, we choose to ignore the inner voice of our conscience warning us about the harm we self-inflict by working in darkness? Why, at times, do we wind up preferring the embarrassment of having our misdeeds exposed to the freedom of operating joyfully in broad daylight? But, the core of today’s good news is that, while other sin-prone human beings will condemn our wicked actions once they are exposed, our God knows them all already even if done in the thickest darkness, yet, He seeks us out to save us, not to condemn us.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world may be saved through him. (John 3:17)
As it was for Nicodemus, our walk from darkness into broad daylight is prompted by contemplating the Crucifix, the Son of Man lifted on the cross. We should believe that our actions done in darkness will diminish in reversed proportion to our appreciation for the love of the Father made graphically visible on the cross of His Son Jesus. We ought to let these words of comfort and reassurance sink deeply into our heart.
In our human frailty, we might still have some misdeeds to hide, but our Father, who sees everything, is already preparing the path for us to walk back into the light. As Jesus points out to Nicodemus, the guarantee that we seek for lasting joy is found precisely in the way in which God operates. God saves us in ways that, if adopted by human beings, would be absolutely inadequate and ridiculously ineffective. In the desert, God saved people bitten by deadly snakes if they looked trustingly at a bronze serpent mounted on a pole. Similarly, God alone can give us life if we place our faith in the bruised and lifeless body of His Son lifted up on the cross. This is the love which has the awesome power of helping us walk in God’s light on this earth and which, one day, will enable us to see God as He truly is.