When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12
When we face the sun the shadow we cast is behind us. When turn our back on the sun the shadow we cast is before us. Should we stand still as a sun dial with the movement of the sun across the sky from east to west, from sunrise to sun set, our shadow will move none the less. At noon when the sun is directly overhead then our shadow disappears as the sun is at it’s apex right above us.
Christ is the Light of the World. He was so determined in Genesis when God proclaimed: “Let there be light.” As with the sun, should we face the Son-of God; the light of the world, we no longer have our shadows before us. We are bathed in the Divine loving light of warmth, peace, comfort and enjoy the fruits of His mercy. Our indiscretions and fallibility then are not before us, but, rather, what is before us is our likeness to the sinless and perfection of the Son of Man. When we turn our backs on Chrsit we see before us not the graces just described but rather what resides in the shadow before us; the manifestations of sin, by our weakness. They are as specters, ever present. The further we pursue them over Chrsit the longer and darker is that shadow. Yet at any time we can turn our backs on it, and face Christ. The closer we approach Him the easier it is to do so. For the things of sin that call to us like a siren fades to silence the further we get from their practice and the closer we get to the light of Christ.
The pain of Lent in this exercise of struggle to direct ourselves to the light as opposed to the shadows is not the pain derived from outside physical demands but rather the pain of self-denial. The pain of sacrifice. We know given the choice of light or shadows we will desire the light. In the light our vision is clear. In the darkness of shadows we are blind. Blind to all things especially the truth. We are like one who finds oneself at the bottom of a well. We are not certain, by our blindness, how we came to be there. But we are certain that we cannot get out on our own.
Evil exists because God did not want robots to love Him without choice. For when we choose him He finds us charming. God is not only light but love. As a bell is not a bell until rung and a song not a song until sung, so love is not love until given away. We exist because the source of love must be offered. We are the targets of that selfless, sacrificial love. With free will we can choose God…good or choose the contrary. In not choosing good, whenever we do, we turn out backs on God. And in so doing the void left by good’s absence must be filled. And hence enters evil. And evil is a persona; which answers to many names, but is one entity. It is all that is contrary to good. When love given is rejected then it is rendered impotent. Love is not in the shadows but when embraced leads to the place of celestial light. It is the paradise that was forfeited in the Fall. And now by Christ’s passion on the cross and endurance of the grave has been restored. His resurrection ensures that we will receive our inheritance. All that is necessary, is to choose. Either to strive with all our strength to keep moving toward the light of the world or, in weakness, continue in our selfish pursuits and ever extending our shadows as we travel down the road to perdition. When the end line has been breached there is then no time to turn back. In the 40 days of Lent many things can be changed or further engrained. The grace to do it, to turn around, is available to each of us. But for the power of grace to be released you must take that first step. Each consecutive step toward the light is easier than the one before it. For as the light brightens so too does the shadow fade. And the grace will grow as you advance, making what at first seemed impossible now undoubtedly achievable. The empowering grace will be there from that first step. So, quiet the voices that call you from your inheritance. They are the voices from the prince of lies.
The good thief may have stolen heaven, but he did it while still alive. When our eyes close to this world for the last time we have made our choice. Our eyes then will open to another world. And that world will be of our own making. For, our wills will have brought us to the world of light or of shadows.