March 22, 2020
1 Sm 16: 1b,6-7,10-13a; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41
I remember quite vividly my first day of high school, even though it was almost 40 years ago. I got out of the school bus, this giant red and grey bus, and the very first thing I saw was a big round seal. The seal of the school, right in front of me. And written around the top of the seal were the words “Lux in Domino”.
Three simple Latin words: Lux in Domino. They were taken from today’s second reading, from St. Paul’s letter to the Christian community in Ephesus. “Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” Lux in Domino. Light in the Lord. It’s a great motto for an educational institution, a school. But more than that, it is a blue print for how we are to live our lives, as Christians. And it is a great reminder during this time of Lent, given everything that has been going on in the past few weeks.
You’ve heard me say this before, but Lent is not about giving up Facebook or giving up chocolate. Those are sacrifices and they are good things. But if that is all we think about Lent, then we’ve missed the point. Given that so many of us are staying at home, missing our regular daily interactions, and facing major disruptions in our lives, it seems that a lot of sacrifices have been heaped upon us anyway.
Lent is about preparation. It is about preparation for what is to come in the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Because we have to remember that the story has a happy ending, that the story ends with the resurrection, that the story ends with Jesus’ triumph over death. And no matter how bleak things looks at times – given all the bad news we’re hearing – we need to remember that the big picture is about how God ’s love triumphs over death.
Because of that, the darkness has been removed from our lives. It has been expelled. And therefore, St. Paul can say, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” And because we are light in the Lord, because we are lux in Domino, we are invited – no, we are compelled, to live as children of light. “Live as children of light,” St. Paul says, “for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.”
Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, because Jesus Christ has conquered the darkness, we Christians – we believers – live in that light. A light that produces goodness and righteousness and truth. That’s why one of the symbols of Christianity is light. It’s a great symbol for the hope and confidence, for the optimism and sense of anticipation, that Jesus brings into our lives. Christ the light. It is why we have Easter candles, and why there is always a light burning at the tabernacle. It is why we light candles at the altar during Mass, and light candles at baptism. To signify the presence of Christ the light, Christ in our midst, Christ at the core of our lives.
And what are we supposed to do as children of light? What are we supposed to do as men and women who believe that we have been saved by Jesus Christ? Well, Paul tells that too: “Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.”
Expose the fruitless works of darkness. That is why we have the responsibility as Christians to speak out for the truth. That’s why we are responsible for caring for the least of our brothers and sisters, especially at this time – either by staying home, or continuing to work on essential tasks. That is why when we encounter someone who is thirsty, we give him a drink. When we meet a stranger, we welcome her. When there are those who are naked, we clothe them; or ill and we care for them; or in prison and we visit them.
Because we, as Christians, have a responsibility to be the voice for the voiceless, especially for our brothers and sisters who are facing any sort of injustice. That is what happens when the light exposes the darkness. That’s what happens when we take no part in the fruitless works of darkness.
And that’s what Jesus did when he met the man born blind. He cured him. He made his life better. He gave of what he had, even if he had to break the Sabbath rules to do it. Because that’s what God asks. Because that’s what a child of light would do.
Today is the fourth Sunday of Lent, also called Laetare Sunday. Another Latin word. This one means rejoice. That’s why we would wear rose colored vestments instead of purple. It reminds us that in the midst of Lent, we have to keep focused on joy. Even when we are asked to stay away from each other, we have to keep focused on hope. We have to keep focused on the light, and not to let the darkness in our lives overwhelm us.
Jesus the light always finds his way into the many dark corners of our lives, and yes, they are many. And there he fills those dark spaces with his presence. And that’s Good News, because it gives us hope and joy and peace. Because the light has overcome the darkness, which makes us are children of light. We are lux in Domino, we are light in the Lord.
Fr. Joaquin Martinez, SJ