The concept of light chasing away darkness is central to understanding Jesus and Christianity in general. Simeon the prophet was of the first Jews to recognize the child Jesus as “a light of revelation for the gentiles…” (Luke 2:32). This metaphor of light makes sense against a background of darkness; little wonder John refers to Jesus in his first chapter as “The light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn. 1:5)
Undoubtedly, light reveals the truth and exposes what was hidden. This explains why in today’s Gospel Reading (cf. John 3:16-21), still in his conversation with Nicodemus, Christ speaks of himself as the light that has come into the world but men have shown they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. And indeed, everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, for fear his actions should be exposed; but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God. The word translated as “evil” here is the Greek ‘ponera.’ This term not only implies evil, but a sense of drudgery, labour, and effort. Applying this idea, we see that man is not just immoral but works hard at being immoral; (cf. Jn. 10:10; Is. 14:3; Mat. 11:28). The idea that man works hard at being immoral, explains the fruitless efforts of the religious authorities (darkness) in suppressing the message of the Gospel (the Light) as seen in today’s First Reading (cf. Acts. 5:17-26), but the darkness could not overcome the light – the message of the gospel could not be quenched.
Dear friends in Christ, apparently, there is a spiritual battle that continually goes on between light and darkness till date. It is a battle between the light of Christ that is in each of us and is to shine through us, against the darkness that comes from the evil one and his kingdom. Nevertheless, in many ways this should be no contest, in fact, it shouldn’t be a battle at all, because light is always superior to darkness. Naturally, when you turn on a light in a dark room, the darkness immediately disappears. Likewise, in the spiritual realm, there is also no competition between light and darkness. Christ’s light is far superior to the darkness that comes from the kingdom of darkness. If this is so, then why do we conceive the idea of a battle between light and darkness? Put differently, what is the battle plan of the evil one when he is quite aware of the superiority of Jesus’ light over his darkness? It’s quite obvious — the evil one tries to get Christians to hide their light under a bowl; he works hard at convincing us Christians that we should cloak or obscure our light, by allowing evil deeds to prevail in our world. When we hide God’s brilliance within us, we are definitely allowing the evil one’s darkness to prevail.
Dearest friends in Christ, we are all called to live out our vocation as lights to the world. In a world where darkness is often celebrated as against the light, let us like today’s Psalmist [Ps. 33(34):2-9], “look towards Him and be radiant; let your faces not be abashed.” Let us with childlike trust depend and call upon our Lord for his abundant graces to always outshine the darkness of the world.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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