Sunday, March 18, 2012

Shadows Better Emphasize Light – Fourth Sunday of Lent

“But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” – Jn 3:21

One of the most difficult things for me to do in life was to be honest with myself, to my parents and older brother. For many reasons, I was very depressed at the end of college. I felt like I was living a double life; childhood wounds were haunting me in force; my fears were rolling from the deep which I could no longer keep at bay; I could not decide between married life or the priesthood, to take a break from my girlfriend in order to truly explore a religious calling; I could not be honest to everyone that I did not want to be a doctor, but pursued it mainly to please everyone, especially my dad. I had misled my parents that I had graduated from college. Faith and trust in God at the time felt like an insurmountable wall. I did not understand that one is saved by grace, by the free gift of God. I had, up to then, relied on my own powers to do and to be good, on my on works (Eph 2:8-9).

After a silent retreat, I was given a great grace while praying. I was able to be utterly honest with God and with myself about everything that was going on without judgment. To let God see me clearly as I am. At the time, it felt neither soothing or spectacular. Yet, it changed my life. I was able to come before my parents, uncovered the fears and lies that were overwhelming me, confessed how I had let them down in so many ways. My parents taught me a lifelong lesson as things were been brought into the light. They said, “Son, how foolish you are. We love you, not the things you do.” Through them, God’s unconditional love flowed and was embraced by me. I was being taught to live more in truth. I am still learning.

When we let the shadows and sins of who we are come to the light of God’s love, we are blinded at first. Accepting untruths about who we are, letting go of allusions about who God is and what love is, does not feel freeing at all. Yet, freedom and peace dawn slowly in our hearts and through our relationships.

We learn from physics that the light we see is a result of photons reflecting off the surface of dust particles and impurities in the air. In a perfect vacuum, devoid of any dirt or contaminants, light cannot be seen. It is a truth I continue to discover that my imperfections, sinful tendencies, and shadows actually reflect the light of God’s love. It is a humbling and freeing truth. When I live and serve out of this awareness, God flows. Pope John XXIII is on to something when he says: “If God created shadows, it was to better emphasize the light.”

“As you and I journey half way through Lent, what aspects of our lives and our relationships are we invited to be more honest with, to allow God’s light to shine upon?”

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