During Advent, as well as during Lent, one particular reading for the second Sunday during these seasons present us with the theme of being joyful or glad. Today is such a celebration that calls to us. We pray with the patterns of our ungladness, our unfreedoms, and our darknesses.
The prophet Isaiah announces a coming of One Who has the mission of bringing release, healing, and the proclamation of good news. We hear John as the advanceman of the One to come, in today’s Gospel. He is not the “light”, but announces the presence of the “light”.
We pray for a personal increase in hope and joy with the realization that we are not alone, personally nor collectively. The Light is coming to dispel what is dark within and around us.
In the creation narrative of the Book of Genesis, God is presented as saying, “Let there be light.” In two weeks we will hear in the First Reading for the midnight mass of Christmas, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” It seems that God’s light got turned to darkness along the way, but God seems to keep saying, “Let there be more light.”
We have an expression which is used when we come to understand something, “I see.” We refer to others from whom we keep secrets as “being kept in the dark”. Those whom we consider not as smart as ourselves, we name, “Lights out” or “not the brightest bulb on the tree.”
A second form of darkness is a mood of spirit. We hear the phrase, “doom and gloom” referring to statements or personalities of pessimism or hopelessness. We can often invite them to “lighten up”. We will hear in the Second Reading that we are to “rejoice always.” We hear also “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God.” Being happy and grateful at all times is a constant work of God’s grace and God’s will is to bring us out of our sadnesses. We all have hard times and it is not unfaithful to weep and wonder “Why us”. God does not ask us to be inhuman in our reactions and responses. Denial is not a faith response either. God is always saying, “Let there be some light, sometime!”
There are also various forms of visual darkness or blindness. We all can be blinded by what we do see. The familiar objects and persons around us can be treated as if we do not see them for what they are. We become blind to them by their closeness to us. Family members, friends, neighbors, fellow workers can all become foggy figures. It is often when they move away to a greater distance, by job relocation, death, or our lack of personal attention, that we come to see them more clearly.
The word “expectation” means literally, “watching out”, or “looking out”. What we visually see is often determined by what we are specifically looking out for. There might be other objects or persons in the field, but we get blinded to them, because of our exact focus. Expectations can limit our vision, both physically and spiritually. We are blinded by what we want to see or don’t want to see.
Pre-judging anything or anyone is a form of keeping them in the dark. Color, forms, actions, and gestures may not conform to our way of seeing things as acceptable. My “view” of you or them can be disturbed by the distance I keep. Keeping things at a safe distance will also keep them distorted and safe for my security of selfishness. God continues saying, “Let there be brighter light!”
We are waiting for the Light to uncover us; to take off the blinders by which we walk in ignorance, sadness, and distrust. Jesus as the Light illumines ourselves to ourselves and says, “Now what do you say of yourself?” The joy to which we are invited is the sense that we are of and in God. The Creator still works out our fuller creation and asks us to let go of false images of God and especially ourselves. As the Light draws closer to us, Who is always desirous of moving closer to us, we will see ourselves more clearly, but as we say, “in a new light”. If we stay in the shadows we will never see our features and our gifts. When we allow the Light to come closer, we will see things perhaps we wish not to see. Our faults, our lack of response might be too real, but the Light is embracing, not accusing. In that Light we were created and in that Light we receive our re-creation. That is the good news, the cause of rejoicing.
We cannot love that which we do not know: ourselves, each other, creation, or God. The Light has come to reveal as much as we can know about all four. God does not want to keep us in the “dark” about ourselves. What blinds us could be fear or false humility. The Light calls us out into the bright idea God has of us and for us. The darkness which prevents us from accepting others the Light has shined on them in the forms of sacredness. God sees them as sacraments, outward signs, of God’s love. The Light, to which John testifies in today’s Gospel, has entered our world to focus our vision upon the Source and what the Source is all about. The Source is all about us and our final and eternal Light shining now and forever. God still says, “That there be a joyful light and lots of it.”
“Say to the anxious-be strong and fear not, our God will come to save us.” Is. 35, 4
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