– YEAR A AND B CORRESPONDENCE FOR LAETARE SUNDAY
“We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (Jn 9:4-5)
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.” (Jn 9:35-39)
God, who is rich in mercy,
because of the great love he had for us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions,
brought us to life with Christ — by grace you have been saved —,
raised us up with him,
and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,
that in the ages to come
he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace
in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
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.
For we are his handiwork,
created in Christ Jesus for the good works
that God has prepared in advance,
that we should live in them. (Eph 4:2-10)
And this is the verdict,
that 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. (Jn 3:19-21)
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention
the things done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light. (Eph 5:8-14)
There is a profound correspondence
in all of these readings,
between the theme of light and darkness,
faith in Christ and rejection of him,
works of holiness and works of evil.
We see here the deep, inseparable union
between vulnerability and intimacy,
the disclosure of the interior secrets of the heart
before the judging and redeeming light of God.
God offers to us the gift of intimacy
with his own life as Trinity,
this ineffable, awesome gift
of sharing in the bliss of Father, Son, and Spirit,
where interior mystery and vulnerable self-disclosure
are simply one, indissoluble in the intimacy of perfect embrace.
Jesus comes into our world as God’s self-disclosure,
and therefore as light, illumining our darkness.
And yet when light illumines it seeks, thus,
a corresponding vulnerability on our part:
the willingness to be laid bare before the light.
Burdened by our sin, our darkness, our fear,
the gift of light comes as grace and salvation,
simply to be received in faith, gratuitously.
It is the healing rays of merciful love
that seek to envelop us and irradiate our life.
And yet within this all-encompassing gift
of pure and undeserved salvation,
the reality of works—of light or of darkness—
also has its place.
For those whose works are evil,
and who are unwilling to lay this evil aside,
cling to the darkness and prefer it to light.
Thus they are unable to receive the gift
of redemption and liberation coming from God.
But those whose works are good
come to the light, so that it may be seen
that their works have been wrought in God.
That is amazing: wrought in God!
All goodness, all authentic love
is necessarily and always a participation in God,
and therefore worked out within his very mystery!
On the other hand, how can anything be truly good
unless it is a participation in his mystery?
Thus, to cling to “good works” apart from grace
is to prefer works of darkness to works of light—
for one may well prefer autonomous righteousness
to the holiness that is born of truth, in poverty.
“For light produces every kind of goodness,
and holiness, and truth.” Light produces:
it is not the result of our works, of any kind,
but a gift given to us by grace alone,
which then produces in us every good thing.
Indeed, before producing anything in us,
the light simply envelops us and holds us tight:
tight in the embrace of Father, Son, and Spirit.
“He has raised us up in Christ…”
Yes, he has lifted us up, through Cross and Resurrection,
to abide with the Son in the bosom of the Father.
This is our vocation and our destiny,
and indeed the deepest truth of who we are.
And outside of this intimate union in love
nothing else, even works, finds meaning.
The truth of adoption into the Trinity’s life,
the truth of abiding in the embrace of joy,
the truth of repose in the happiness of communion:
this is the beginning and end of our existence,
for it is the very heart and defining truth of God himself.
And from this intimacy, so strong, so pure,
we are called simply to walk in the works
that God arranges for us in each moment of life,
so that our actions and words may correspond,
may express—as a blossoming of this deepest truth—
the gift that we have received from the Trinity.
Indeed, this union of repose and works,
of pure abiding communion and the gift of self,
of light gratuitously received
and our willingness to expose ourselves to the light,
to cooperate with the light’s own transforming power:
this union becomes so inextricably bound,
like a swathe of faultlessly-woven cloth,
that it cannot be torn asunder…
for the children of God, transformed by light,
are of one piece.
But the amazing thing is that this happens,
not by an equalization of all these terms,
but by the first enveloping the second in themselves,
by repose, abiding communion, and gratuitous light
being given such priority, such radical space,
that they can expand freely to penetrate,
to enfold, and to transform
everything else as well,
taking it all up into themselves…
into the pure joy of the Father, Son, and Spirit,
who are pure Repose, abiding Communion,
and the single Light shared by Three in One.