The images of light and darkness are a constant reality in our scriptures. Our creating God’s first words were “let there be light.” Paraphrasing the first chapter of John’s gospel we read; “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God” – the word was the true light that enlightens all people – a light that shines in the darkness, a light that darkness could not overpower. In other words, in the end light always conquers the dark.
Jesus referred to himself as the light of the world and promised that those who follow him would not walk in darkness. His love and truth would be their guiding light, a light that would protect them from falling in the dark. Jesus knew the history of his people and their constant struggle between the light of God’s truth and their tendency to follow other gods. Though the Jewish people celebrated the great liberating event of God freeing them from the slavery of Egypt every year, every now and then they would slip back into their old ways of unfaithfulness. As we heard in our first reading, “they kept mocking the servants of the Lord, despising his word and scoffing at the prophets.” There were many times they preferred the darkness over the life giving light of God.
Nicodemus, a leading member in the Jewish community, came to Jesus in the dark of night seeking the light of truth. He knew in his heart of hearts that no one could do the things Jesus did unless he was of God. Jesus welcomed Nicodemus, this searcher of light. Jesus spoke of the reality of his own life, “the light has come into the world and the people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. All who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” The powers of darkness had their victory on Calvary, as scripture tells us ‘darkness covered the whole earth.’ But we see Jesus’ victory in the glorious light of his resurrection.
We’ve all seen pictures of men and women who have been caught committing a violent crime or who have been caught swindling trusting people out of their savings. As they are being brought into court they try to hide in the darkness of a coat or jacket pulled over their heads. They want to hide from the glare of the light of publicity, hide from the light that exposes their evil deeds.
That’s why our Freedom of Information Act is such a blessing. The media can get access to information about secret meetings and secret deals between the government and big corporations in which decisions are made that can affect all of us without our ever knowing about it. Speaking of exposure, hopefully our church will be healed through the bringing to light the crimes of priests against innocent children and the exposure of the cover-up by our bishops.
Jesus told us ‘you are the light of the world.’ So let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give praise to your father in heaven. Right after our baptism our parents were handed a lit candle and the priest prayed over us – receive the light of Christ. You have been enlightened by Christ and you are to walk always as a child of the light. May you keep the flame of faith alive in your hearts and when the Lord comes may you go out to meet with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other, that strengthened by the bread of life we will receive, we will keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts and may good works be the way of our lives.