I’ve decided that I’m not a big fan of “springing forward.” Since the switch to Daylight Savings Time last weekend, I notice that I’ve begun just about every morning in serious need of “saving.”
Perhaps it’s just another sign of my advancing years–but losing that hour of sleep…and reverting to a routine that now has me rising before the sun…well, honestly, it’s turned into a bit of a struggle. My brain has been refusing to fire on all its cylinders for the first several hours of the day. So all week long, I wound up feeling a bit more “behind”…and a bit less productive…than I had been the week before.
I guess it’s a good thing, then, that we’re celebrating Laetare Sunday this week. I need the lift. I need the reminder that spring is, in fact, near–and that our redemption is at hand.
In the nugget we hear from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians on Sunday, there’s some specific consolation for the malaise connected to my recent lack of productivity. Paul assures me / us that while work may be important, it is not necessarily redemptive:
For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;
it is not from works, so no one may boast.
Which is a pretty good gig, all things considered: Even if you’re not getting much of anything done at the moment, or you’re feeling constantly behind the eight-ball, grace is still available. And not just a little portion. “Immeasurable riches of his grace” is how Paul puts it.
Sunday’s gospel passage is more intriguing still for the light-starved among us. A few verses before the excerpt we’ll hear proclaimed at Mass, the evangelist makes a point of noting that Nicodemus was himself in darkness as he approached the Lord. The Pharisee ‘came to Jesus at night,’ we’re told. No doubt, he feared the accusing eyes of his peers, among other dangers.
Jesus offers him (and us) a different deal, one that Nicodemus finds incomprehensible. Jesus says God isn’t looking to condemn, but to save. And then Jesus provides this lesson in human nature:
…the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Longing for light, it seems, may not be quite the character flaw that I’ve been making it out to be all these past several days. We have it on pretty good authority that there’s something worthy about light. Something holy.
Little wonder, then, that its absence seems to make our heart grow fonder.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.