Monday of the 30th Week in Ordinary time
Ephesians 4:32-5:8; Psalm 1; Luke 13:10-17
Light is a strange thing isn’t it? It has no weight and we can’t touch it yet it is so important. This echoes last week’s sharing – that we can find God in the physical world. With light, darkness is clear as the light casts shadows. The converse is the same as only with the experience darkness would we appreciate the light. We’re often told that darkness is bad – it’s often used as a metaphor for a lack of goodness and even in Genesis 1 we’re reminded that God cast away darkness early in creation when ‘Let there be light’ was proclaimed. But at the same time, darkness can beget beauty as our experience of wayang kulit (shadow puppets) shows us. How can we understand this interplay of light and darkness then?
The Gospel shows Jesus doing something quite familiar – he’s calling out hypocrisy amongst the scribes and pharisees and does this by doing good – healing someone albeit on the sabbath. Some commentators have pointed out that Jesus might have been baited to do so but healed the crippled woman anyway. Though he could have healed her any other day, he chose to do it that day. Why cause unnecessary problems?
I’d like to remind us that sometimes problems are instructive. I remember teaching using problems helps to elicit a variety of thoughts and responses in students that allows them to go beyond what they might normally learn. Problems put you in situations where you need to find some way to explain things that don’t quite make sense. Having a problem and moving towards the possible solution is like someone in the darkness seeking the light. Jesus always wants to heal but healing in this case is only part of the teaching. The moving out of the darkness lies in the means of the healing.
It was written that Jesus’ enemies were confused but others saw the healing and were overjoyed.The enemies remained in darkness but others saw the light of the healing, saw the light of God through the actions of the Lord. It’s like how some choose to see half-empty glasses all the time. The Pharisees chose to stay in the dark and to try to condemn Jesus for doing something that’s good. We see how their misplaced priorities, of putting the law above love and mercy caused them to seem so unfeeling and unnecessarily rigid. In literary terms, the scribes and Pharisees were like foils to show the best side of the Lord, showing how we can be the light that shines through their darkness.
St Paul reminds us of the darkness that’s in us in the First Reading. And I’m sure the list is longer than what’s in today’s excerpt. But here again is an example of how darkness can make the light stronger. The darkness of sin can make the light quite hard to bear – imagine squinting in the bright light after emerging from the dark. It’s jarring and uncomfortable but we can turn away and go back into the dark or be patient and allow our eyes to adjust. We need to respond in some way.
The Pharisees turned away and chose to remain in dark. The truth of the need for love and mercy seemed to hurt their so carefully constructed way of understanding things so they chose to run away from the light. Do we do the same? In St Paul’s words, do we go on in sin and reject the Lord’s invitation to come into the light? We were in darkness once, but no more. We were born to be children of light and that’s what we should aim for. Furthermore, the light that seems so much more attractive in comparison with the darkness.
We need to be able to find God even in the darkness. Once we know we are the children of the light, the darkness holds less fear for us. God comes to us in both light and darkness and the contrast between them helps us to learn and to grow. In all this, we pray for openness to God, to be trees that bear fruit that is lasting. And in the worlds of the song we pray:
Christ be our light, shine in our hearts shine through the darkness.
Christ be our light, shine in your church gathered today.