Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Light Shines in the Darkness--Sunday, December 14, 2008

December 14, 2008, Year B
Third Sunday of Advent

Theme: The Light Shines in the Darkness

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Advent comes just as we are experiencing shorter and colder days.  In the midst of this reality the warmth and light of Advent's eternal hope befriends us.  It is common to resist this overture; the true light meant for each of us.  Shame of things done in darkness, when no one else is looking imprison the heart; we sew fig leaves to cover up.  God knows.  The 'hidden things' are not hidden from him.  

John the Baptist was a lamp in the desert declaring that the 'light of the world' was coming.  John was sent to bear witness to that light. And this passage describes the darkness powerless before this uncreated light.  It is this light shining in our hearts that will drive away the darkness of even secret sins.  This is the good and blessed news of Advent, that the light shines in darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

Confession dispels the darkness that ever seeks our cooperation.  Sometimes we do cooperate.  Often we have.  This is the reality of living in a fallen and corrupt world.  Yet we are the light of the world, a city set on a hill which cannot be hidden.  Reconciliation brings us to the power of this other reality, a kingdom of truth and light.  

It is the Father of lights from whom every perfect gift comes.  There is no greater gift than life in the divine light.  Our understanding of this heavenly light grows with the lighting each week of one of the four candles of Advent that speak of hope, peace, joy and love. If only we might cast off the unfruitful ways of darkness and pray with all our might, "Lord, let your face shine on me, and I shall live."  

With a heavy heart we recently heard the tragic account of early bird Christmas shoppers at a Wal-Mart store in the Northeast trampling to death a worker as he unlocked the doors.  This particular black Friday became especially bleak as bargains mattered more than the helpless and dying man they stepped over.  The mob remained unconcerned as they made it difficult for co-workers to reach their fallen friend.  Stuff and things blinded the hearts of this sea of humanity spilling over the dead man in mass hysteria in search of the deal of the day.  

Such darkness.  Such outrageous and senseless darkness.  

The struggle of good and evil however, of light and darkness is ever with us. Be sure, this struggle is not between two equally competing foes.  St. John's Gospel announces from the beginning the absolute power of this light against the evil one.  It is this which inspires the belief that grace is greater than sin.  My brothers and sisters, it is Advent that seeks to persuade us of this divine truth.  

God is light and in him is no darkness at all.  This means for us the Almighty intends to bring us into his marvelous light.  There are no shadows in this divine light.  Upon us has come the power of this underived light to set us free from the powers of Satan's snares.  It is folly to suppose the outcome of this struggle of cosmic proportion is somehow unpredictable.  Yet some suspect some sins are difficult for God to deal with.  This denotes a lack of knowledge.  The Son of God appears to take away sin, and in him there is no sin.(I John 3:5)   

Like in the opening verses of Genesis, the theme of light dominates the opening of John's Gospel.  This light is eternal for it is the glory of the Word made flesh we anticipate. Bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, Christ unites our weakness with himself, except sin.  This is the joy of this third Sunday of Advent; soon the light of the world will draw all humanity to himself. 

A star will guide Gentiles from the East to the everlasting light.  

Heavenly hosts will light up the sky directing the shepherds to the kindly light asleep on the hay.   

At last may we will kneel before him too, this radiant Son of God.

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, fill me with holy light so that darkness cannot reign in me.  Then in this light may my thoughts take shape, my heart be formed, and my mouth praise you.  Amen.


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