Sermon: Wednesday in Holy Week

darknessA riddle for you. See if you know the answer:
“It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt,
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills,
It comes first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter.”

Bilbo Baggins, in The Hobbit, knew the answer: Dark.

Bad things can happen in the dark. You can stump your toe on the coffee table, step on the dog, and even be attacked by the monster under the bed. So we naturally reach for anything to dispel the darkness. If not the flip of a switch, then there are candles, flashlights, or the glow of a cellphone.

Yet, even though we do not like the darkness in the physical world, there are times that we prefer it in the spiritual. There are times when we try to hide in the recesses of our souls and minds, believing that we are safe from any observation.

In his Gospel, John uses the analogy of a physical darkness to point to this far worse spiritual darkness. Writing in chapter three, John says, “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.”

It is this darkness, both physical and spiritual, that we see in our Gospel reading today. Judas received the piece of bread from Jesus and it is then that Satan enters him. Following this, John wrote, “after receiving the piece of bread, [Judas] immediately went out.” It seems to simply be indicating the time of day, but John adds, “And it was night.”

Judas, following the path of his own choosing, turned from God and entered the night, the darkness of his own soul. He believed that God was unaware, yet Jesus’ statement to him demonstrates that nothing was hidden, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”

We can deceive ourselves in a similar manner. We can wander off into the dark recesses of our souls, thinking that our deeds and thoughts are hidden from the eyes of God, yet, as the Psalmist says:

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

God has separated the darkness from the light. The darkness is no place for the children of God. We must allow the full light of Christ to shine on all our thoughts and works, revealing those hidden things that cause us to stumble.

St. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.”

You are children of light. Allow that light to shine on all your thoughts and deeds.

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