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What’s Your Darkness?

First Reading: 2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-18, 20

When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah,
saw that her son was dead,
she began to kill off the whole royal family.
But Jehosheba, daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah,
took Joash, his son, and spirited him away, along with his nurse,
from the bedroom where the princes were about to be slain.
She concealed him from Athaliah, and so he did not die.
For six years he remained hidden in the temple of the LORD,
while Athaliah ruled the land.

But in the seventh year,
Jehoiada summoned the captains of the Carians
and of the guards.
He had them come to him in the temple of the LORD,
exacted from them a sworn commitment,
and then showed them the king’s son.

The captains did just as Jehoiada the priest commanded.
Each one with his men, both those going on duty for the sabbath
and those going off duty that week,
came to Jehoiada the priest.
He gave the captains King David’s spears and shields,
which were in the temple of the LORD.
And the guards, with drawn weapons,
lined up from the southern to the northern limit of the enclosure,
surrounding the altar and the temple on the king’s behalf.
Then Jehoiada led out the king’s son
and put the crown and the insignia upon him.
They proclaimed him king and anointed him,
clapping their hands and shouting, “Long live the king!”

Athaliah heard the noise made by the people,
and appeared before them in the temple of the LORD.
When she saw the king standing by the pillar, as was the custom,
and the captains and trumpeters near him,
with all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets,
she tore her garments and cried out, “Treason, treason!”
Then Jehoiada the priest instructed the captains
in command of the force:
“Bring her outside through the ranks.
If anyone follows her,” he added, “let him die by the sword.”
He had given orders that she
should not be slain in the temple of the LORD.
She was led out forcibly to the horse gate of the royal palace,
where she was put to death.

Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD as one party
and the king and the people as the other,
by which they would be the LORD’s people;
and another covenant, between the king and the people.
Thereupon all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal
and demolished it.
They shattered its altars and images completely,
and slew Mattan, the priest of Baal, before the altars.
Jehoiada appointed a detachment for the temple of the LORD.
All the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet,
now that Athaliah had been slain with the sword
at the royal palace.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 132:11, 12, 13-14, 17-18

R. (13) The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
The LORD swore to David
a firm promise from which he will not withdraw:
“Your own offspring
I will set upon your throne.”
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
“If your sons keep my covenant
and the decrees which I shall teach them,
Their sons, too, forever
shall sit upon your throne.”
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he prefers her for his dwelling.
“Zion is my resting place forever;
in her will I dwell, for I prefer her.”
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
“In her will I make a horn to sprout forth for David;
I will place a lamp for my anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but upon him my crown shall shine.”
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.

Gospel: Matthew 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

“The lamp of the body is the eye.
If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.
And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

NAB

DEV_J17
“If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.”

This has to be one of the most sobering but well-stated metaphors in Scripture.

The ending especially stops me in my tracks and seems to grow and fill the room with a long, echoing silence: “And if the light in you is darkness…

how great will the darkness be.”

Echo.
Echo.
Echo.

I’d venture to bet that most of us are striving to live out our lives as pretty good people. We’re not running around thieving or murdering or perpetuating the kind of obvious darkness and evil we so often shudder at.

But none of us are saints (yet!) either. All of us still struggle daily against sin. And all of us (whether it’s sinful or not) have some darkness that is not of God blurring our vision. Usually it’s the same something Satan has been putting in our path for years to block our view of the light; he doesn’t have to get very creative because often that one thing just keeps working, over and over, to obscure our view of the truth and allow the darkness creep through our souls.

What darkeness do you battle?
A vice or bad habit?
Fear and anxiety?
Despair?
Seeking the approval of others?
Anger or jealousy?

God has created each of us intentionally and uniquely for Himself. He delights in us, and He calls us to shine His light to the world in a way no one else can. But . . . we can’t shine light very well to others if ours has been all but extinguished.

So remember that first, we must open ourselves and allow God to shine His light on the darkness within us. We need not be afraid of our darkness. In response, God gives us grace and all sorts of instruments to bring light to our darkness. Confession. The Eucharist. Prayer. And practical tools—spiritual direction, counseling, accountability groups—God uses all of these to bring warm rays of healing to the darkness in our lives.

And if we expose our darkness to God’s light… then how great will our light be?

Pray with me: Lord, show me how to bring light to my darkness so that I can be Your living light.

photo credit

Megan Hjelmstad is a wife, mom, writer and sometimes soldier whose real passion is equal parts faith and chocolate. You can find out more about her here.

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