Shrouded in darkness, we can do evil. Jesus invites us into the light of truth instead.
This year has been tumultuous already, and we are just in the first quarter. The events of the past few months, unfortunately, have revealed that many people are happy living in darkness, devoid of truth, love and justice. Today’s Gospel calls us to embrace truth.
‘For everyone who does wicked things hates the light.’ (Jn 3:19)
What can you do to promote truth in your community?
How do you discern truth from falsehoods?
How do you maintain hope during tumultuous times?
In a passage unique to John’s Gospel, today we hear of an encounter between Jesus and the pharisee Nicodemus. The two discuss faith, miracles, the power of the Spirit and Jesus’ significance. Notably, Jesus explains that his incarnation is a sign of divine love, and faith in him leads to everlasting life: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” This important declaration links the feasts of Christmas and Easter.
The Third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete (“rejoice”) Sunday, and today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, is Laetare (“rejoice”) Sunday. As in Advent, in the middle of Lent, we are reminded to rejoice in the incarnation and the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, as these acts reveal God’s love.
Yet on this Sunday of joy, the Gospel also exposes us to the sad realities of both the ancient and modern world. Many people simply refuse to accept truth, preferring darkness over light as a place in which to do evil. John often uses light and darkness to represent those who accept and reject Jesus. The light motif first appears when John introduces Jesus as the light that shines through darkness (Jn 1:4-5, 9). When Jesus informs Nicodemus of his role in the world, he also acknowledges the ignorance and wickedness in its midst. Not only do people in darkness reject Jesus; they loathe truth.
We have witnessed what happens when power is given to people who are averse to truth. Distorted realities and corruption persist, not only in government but in the minds and hearts of loyal followers. As we try to recover from years of lies and their effects, we must all come to grips with reality. Acts of hate and continued division are dark and evil, and people who truly want to embrace the light of Christ must also embrace truth.