For Sunday, March 15, 2015, 4th Sunday of Lent
1784. Does that date ring a bell with you? Benjamin Franklin was the first to suggest daylight saving time in that year. The essay he wrote in The Journal of Paris was called “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light.” Franklin’s suggestion was that Parisians get up an hour earlier to save candlelight. On April 30, 1916, DST was first introduced in Germany to save money for the war effort. For over one hundred years we have been saving candles, and the money spent on kilowatt-hours! What hasn’t been saved is peace in our homes! Statistics have been gathered about the results of the loss of just an hour of sleep. There is an increase in heart attacks as well as car accidents the week after DST springs our clocks an hour ahead. Many are questioning its continuation.
But isn’t it wonderful to have light into the evening! Light! It makes us feel better. DST doesn’t increase our light. It only adjusts our clocks for the time of its coming and going. Best of all, as the light in spring increases, it fills our hearts with hope. Spring is coming. And with the coming of spring, summer will be right behind! Hope…after a long and very dark winter!
During the dark of winter, it seemed there was an ever growing darkness in our world. The nightly news was and still is so dark, filled with senseless killings and advancing threats. Oh, for light! Oh, that we can see hope on the horizon!
Politically and spiritually, the time that Jesus came into our world was dark, too. The land he was born into had been conquered and the conquerors were harsh and demanding. Spiritual leaders seemed to be struggling for power and prestige. It was dark. The people of God were threatened on all sides by “snakes in the grass.” Nor was there enough light to even discern who and what these threats always were. Who could they trust? Their native kings and many of their religious leaders were pawns moved this way and that by the moods of the conquerors.
Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the religious leadership, knew he needed to see a way through all of this darkness. In his Gospel of light, John writes that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. As these two men sit together in the darkness, Jesus speaks words of truth, words of the light that he brings into this world. That light wraps itself around truth. “He who acts in truth comes into the light.”
Why did Nicodemus come at night? Did he fear he would lose his position and status if he was seen talking with this rebel? Was he afraid of how Jesus might challenge him? Did he fear that Jesus would see deep into his heart, see what was hidden there?
Do we come to Jesus in the darkness? Do we come really seeking the truth? If we hear the message of Jesus might we prefer to remain in the darkness? Is the image of the cross that is lifted up to bring us genuine new life too challenging? Are we afraid of what it might ask of us? We hear that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” Do we just think of religious fanatics holding that quote up at a football game instead of taking those words to heart? Can we open ourselves to that transforming love of God? Can we let that light into our inner selves where it will transform all dark corners and hidden recesses? Then, can we let that light shine out to others in our own world?
This Fourth Sunday of Lent is Laetare Sunday, a midpoint in Lent. We are halfway to the great feast of Light! How are we doing with our Lenten practices? Let’s get them out and give ourselves a boost to begin again. Maybe we might even want to change those resolutions and go deeper. Our prayer can be asking for the light of the Spirit to shine into our lives and reveal the truth. We can always love each other in more ways.
The church shouts out…rejoice! Light penetrates our penitential purple and turns it to rose. May we let that same light penetrate our hearts and reflect outward in true joy! Let us live in the light!
Patricia DeGroot, OblSB, MTS
O Holy Spirit,
let the might of your love be more and more felt in the hearts of humankind.
Let your light shine more and more
on souls that are wandering in the darkness far away from God.
Turn them to the light-giving Heart of Jesus
and to the healing streams of his Precious Blood.
Strengthen the souls that love you;
perfect in them your seven gifts and your twelve fruits;
and so make them your temples here
that you may be adored by them for ever.
—Prayer for the Victory of the Grace of the Spirit, www.iBreviary.com.