Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent
(Scriptures for today's Mass)
Audio for homily
It amazes me how much a change day light savings time has made
in my mood and my spirits.
Last weekend, I wasn’t very happy about losing an hour’s sleep
but the long-term benefits are real and I’m grateful for them.
I find myself looking out the window around 6:00 at night
and just taking in the light, enjoying it and delighting in it,
knowing that the days will grow even longer
as the weeks move into spring and summer.
I don’t think I realized
how much my mind and my mood, my heart and soul
were stuck in, wanting to leave the darkness behind
-- until I found myself in the light of longer days.
My spirit is lifted, too, when I hear in the gospel today that
“Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn it,
but rather that the world might be saved through him.”
In fact, I’m so taken by those words
it’s easy for me to miss what follows:
“And this is the verdict.”
Jesus came to save - not to condemn
– and yet, there’s a verdict.
John tells us:
“And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world
but people preferred the darkness to the light.”
I know that when I look out my window these days
I do very much prefer the light to the darkness.
But the scripture here is posing a different option:
not the darkness and light of changing seasons
but rather the desire to leave behind
the shadows of selfishness and sin
and to stand in the light of God’s grace and truth.
So, in that sense, which do I prefer: the light - or the darkness?
• The darkness here would be the shadows in which I hide,
keeping secret any desires and deeds of mine
I’d be ashamed to bring out into the light.
• The darkness would be the cloud cover that keeps the light
from shining on my envy of what others have.
• The darkness might be in lonely corners
where I hide my vulnerable heart and shield it
from the risks and costs of love.
• The darkness might be in caves
where I store up my anger, grudges and resentment,
secluding them from the healing light of God’s mercy.
• Or perhaps the darkness is disguised by my smile:
an outward, bright appearance masking the gloom inside.
The darkness might be any one or all of the ways
I satisfy myself with less:
with less than what God wants of me;
with less than what God asks of me;
with less than what God offers me;
with less than what God made and calls me to be –
a child of the light, drawn to the light,
ultimately satisfied and only truly happy in the light
of God’s grace and truth.
As it is with the change of seasons, so in our hearts and souls:
we often don’t know how deep is the darkness we live in,
until we take a step or two into the light…
Lent is a time for discerning which I prefer:
the light or the darkness.
• In being more faithful to prayer in this season:
I stand myself in the light of God’s presence
to see more clearly the truth of who I am and what I prefer.
• In fasting, in giving things up for Lent:
the light of truth shines on my habits and hungers,
on what I rely and depend upon,
and I can see more clearly in what, in whom I place my trust.
• In serving the poor in these 40 days:
the light of grace exposes my abundance,
my need to have and have more,
so I see more clearly how I’m called to share what I have
with those who have so much less.
It’s not hard at all
to see how we prefer the light of spring’s long days
to the darkness of a long winter.
It takes much more work to discern
whether we prefer the light or the darkness
in our relationship with God and with one another.
With this weekend, the 4th Sunday of Lent,
Lent is half over.
And some of us might be thinking right now:
“Whoa! Lent's half over?
Guess it’s time to start thinking
about doing something for Lent!”
And if that’s the case, remember this:
it’s never too late to get on board the Lent train!
That train is making a stop here today.
This is the station.
Jesus is the Conductor and he’s calling, “All aboard!”
There’s even a dining car on the Lent train
and there’s a place at table reserved for you
where the Lord, who was lifted up for our sakes on the Cross
shares his sacrifice and himself again, Body and Blood,
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.
As we ride the Lent train towards Easter,
take a window seat
and look out every day and be grateful for the light in the sky
and the promise of light at the end of our darkest tunnels.
And let’s pray for one another, that in this Lent,
we all grow to prefer the light to the darkness.
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