By now we feel that the snow is over and the days are getting longer. We are half way through March and already there is light in the evenings beyond six o’clock. We have longer daylight to look forward to, especially when the clock goes forward next weekend. With the increase in light, there is also an increase in growth. The first blossoms of spring have already come out. Nature is coming to life after a time of hibernation.
Today’s gospel echoes what is happening in nature, for ‘light has come into the world.’ The light refers to God’s revelation brought into the world by Jesus. Both St Paul and the gospel declare that God’s light is the light of love. For Paul, God “made us alive together with Christ”. The central gospel truth is that God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. In the light of Jesus we find mercy, compassion, great love, kindness, infinite grace.
There is a certain kind of light that can expose us mercilessly, like the light of the interrogator’s lamp. But Jesus brings a light that need hold no fear for us; it is a divine light that lifts us up, just as the Son of Man was lifted up, to save our human race. Here is a light that assures us of our worth and that helps us to see the good we are capable of doing. It is a light that helps us see that ‘we are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live a good life.’
We long for a light that is strong and enduring, a light that is more resilient than all the darkness in this world. We may struggle from time to time with the darkness of illness or depression, with a sense that we are worthless and that life is not worth living. That darkness of spirit finds expression in today’s Psalm, composed during the exile in Babylon. ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept, remembering Zion.’ Our Scriptures for today affirm that in whatever darkness we encounter, the light of God’s enduring love is greater, so that we may have life and have it to the full. As Jesus said, ‘God gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.’