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Darkness and Light

First Reading: Acts 12:24—13:5A

The word of God continued to spread and grow.

After Barnabas and Saul completed their relief mission,
they returned to Jerusalem,
taking with them John, who is called Mark.

Now there were in the Church at Antioch prophets and teachers:
Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene,
Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul
for the work to which I have called them.”
Then, completing their fasting and prayer,
they laid hands on them and sent them off.

So they, sent forth by the Holy Spirit,
went down to Seleucia
and from there sailed to Cyprus.
When they arrived in Salamis,
they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6 AND 8

R. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!

Gospel: John 12:44-50

Jesus cried out and said,
“Whoever believes in me believes not only in me
but also in the one who sent me,
and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.
I came into the world as light,
so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.
And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them,
I do not condemn him,
for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.
Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words
has something to judge him: the word that I spoke,
it will condemn him on the last day,
because I did not speak on my own,
but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.
And I know that his commandment is eternal life.
So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”

NAB

DEV_A20

The light and the darkness. The metaphor permeates our Scriptures from beginning to end, yet do we even have a sliver of understanding of the truth it contains? In today’s Gospel reading Jesus says that He came into this world as light, so that those who believe don’t have to stay in darkness. Think about that for a moment; picture yourself in darkness, feel the weight of it all around you. Now picture yourself in light. It’s powerful imagery, is it not? It evokes actual feeling within us.

Unfortunately, we so often live as though this gift weren’t real. We keep our sins covered, we keep our temptations and our struggles buried deep: we allow ourselves to remain in darkness, despite the fact that we’ve been promised glorious Light.

A few days ago, my husband and I went to confession. It wasn’t an easy feat to attain, desperately trying to keep two small boys entertained and quiet in an utterly silent chapel for over an hour. We didn’t know it at the time, but later both admitted that we’d thought about just leaving. It’s not worth the effort, the Devil whispers. {Oh yes it is.} You can always come back and do it another time. {It never gets more convenient.} Does God really require this of you? {He wants this for me, not for Himself.}

We walked out the doors of the church that night smiling at each other, free. All of our filthy rags, all of our recent shame, had been brought into the light. We were sparkling. We were made new. We were free again, as whole people, to love each other and the world.

Jesus has given us an incredible gift, the gift of living whole and free in Light. Yet all too often we forget that passivity will keep us in darkness every time. We have to fight for our wholeness, fight for our ability to love and be loved. And one of the most powerful ways to do this is through vulnerability. Whether going to confession and receiving absolution from the priest acting in the place of Christ or confiding in a close friend, we can choose every day to be people of the Light, people who no longer consent to live in darkness. And we can be healed.

Take an active step to live in the Light today, bravely opening yourself up to commune with other believers and to receive forgiveness.

photo by Corynne Olivia

Shannon Evans is a Protestant missionary turned Catholic convert who lived to tell the tale. An adoptive and biological mom of two boys, she enjoys hosing mud off children, scrubbing sticky furniture, and rushing to the ER to have nails extracted from small intestines. You can find out more about her here.

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