Lent 2023; Fourth Sunday of Lent
Throughout the bible we can see light as an overwhelming adherence to life itself. In Genesis, God said “Let there be light.” (Gn 1: 3). From the Gospel of John “What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn. 1: 4 - 5).
Light, that offers us life-giving providence found in the very essence of Almighty God. A protective care with spiritual power to lead us through the gloom of sin which darkens the very world we live in. When a child awakens at night and is frightened by lightning and thunder they scream for solace that comes from a parent. Walking in the woods at night and getting too far off the path we depended upon, the fear of being alone or without someone we know can become overwhelming until we see a light to guide us back to safety.
There are portions in scripture that denote darkness as a place of agony and the knowledge of being outside the realm of peace and with God. Matthew speaks of a marriage banquet where one man attending does not have the proper clothing and is thrown into the darkness where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Or the children of the kingdom who do not follow Abraham, Issac, and Jacob will be driven out into the darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Matthew uses this scenario at least four times in his gospel. It may not be a path to hell but we see that without an invitation to or not properly attired for the final banquet Jesus makes reference to certainly presents an eternity without the presence of the Trinity (Mt. 22: 13, 8:12, 13: 42, and 25: 30 - 41).
Isaiah brings this to light in the second Suffering Servant song. “Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, "Israel through whom I show my glory.” (Is 49: 1 - 3). “It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel. I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49: 6).
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.” (Jn. 8: 12).
If anyone desires to see this carried out attend the Easter Vigil Mass and be present when the celebrant places the markers on the paschal candle and repeats the words, “Christ yesterday, today and forever.” As the deacon carries the lighted candle into a darkened church singing Christ our Light, and the congregation light their candles symbolizing the entrance of the Risen Christ coming from the darkness we were living in and now becomes the light of the world.
The symbols of the Easter resurrection are fire, water, and the Gloria sung with a mighty explosion of thanksgiving for the third day after the crucifixion we are now set free from
Darkness of sin to the light of eternal life.
Ralph B. Hathaway