The Ultimate Victory Over Darkness

The other day, I was planning four faith-sharing sessions for Advent. A  “job hazard” for the liturgist is always living in the future — always planning for the next liturgical season.

For others, living in the future means hoping to buy some new gadget, receive a promotion, achieve some accomplishment and on and on. At the same time, too much “future living” can be dangerous because we can miss all the goodness that is already at hand, right before our eyes.

As we near the end of this liturgical season of Ordinary Time, we always hear Gospels about the end times that call for us to look into the future. These Gospels paint a dark and dreary picture of calamity and doom and we often dismiss them.

The imagery in our Gospel this week is no exception. We are tempted to ask, “When, Lord?” When Jesus answers, “No one knows”, this is our call to pay attention to the present. Now is the time for the in-breaking of Christ. Now is what counts.

There is inevitable darkness in our lives. Jesus teaches us to find in this darkness his in-breaking presence — here and now. We can come to hope in Jesus’ abiding presence through very human ways.

Often, when we face difficulties, it is others who come to us with a word of comfort or insight, helping us to see more clearly, giving us strength to make changes in our lives through their presence and compassion.

We don’t find Jesus in the clouds but here on earth; we don’t await victory over darkness only at the end of time, but here and now. Jesus has given us all we need. We need to live like he did, with compassion and understanding, wisdom and care, love and hope. The future holds no fear for us.

Adapted Renew International Year B

Darkness and Light

Confusion. Times we’re clueless. Subjects in which we pray for “enlightenment,” a journey away from “darkness.”

It’s easy to use the analogies of “light” and “darkness” when academic notions are discussed. “Light” is mastery of the subject. “Darkness” is ignorance. However, when we apply these analogies to the faith and morality, we can no longer speak of “light” as mastery, but as commitment. “Light” becomes faithfulness. “Darkness” becomes rejection.In Jesus’ discourse to Nicodemus, he spoke of “light” and “darkness.” But, the light was not the believer’s commitment to God. The “Light” was Christ, the Father’s commitment to his creation.

This Sunday’s gospel presents Jesus’ final comments to Nicodemus, who visited the Master at night. John used this opportunity to contrast light from dark, salvation from condemnation. He saw the “world” as those who hid from the light (dishonorable) and those who act in the light (the honorable). When this Sunday’s gospel declares that God so loved the world, this is not saying love, but doing love.

God remains patient with us while we struggle with choosing between darkness and light. In the midst of our struggle, it is God who brings us greater belief and leads us to eternal life. Such is the depth of love God has for us.

We experience God’s unbounded love through our forgiving one another, through our care for those who are demeaned, and through our protection of te weak and mistreated We experience God’s unbounded love through the joy we feel in loving family life, through a greater realization of our own goodness. We experience God’s unbounded love in the overwhelming grace of salvation.

What does God ask of us? God asks for the total gift of our lives. We are to love as God has loved us.