Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


"Christ is the Light, the Light of Truth"
Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
March 18th, 2012
Year B


Very often I receive comments such as: “boy, you’re young a priest,” or “aren’t you too young to be a priest.” What is particularly distressing is the message that is sent through such comments that as a young man and a priest, I have no experience of life. Now, I bring this up not to make it an issue, rather to make the point that it is through my experience of life and my experience of faith that has brought me to this point. And in my short 31 years, I have experienced life, death, light and darkness. It is my experience of darkness that motivates me to bring this up today. I have experienced the darkness of loss, ignorance, betrayal, abandonment, rejection, the darkness of sin and evil. Let me tell you, it’s not pretty. Yet, every time I experience darkness on some level, there is light. It is the light that gives hope, strength, and joy even amidst the shadows. Now, this is not meant to be doom and gloom rather the awareness of the reality of darkness puts the need for light, for grace into perspective.

Having experienced darkness in my own lifetime, I’m struck by the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel: “the light came into the world, but the people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.” In order to understand better what is being said, it is necessary to understand what is meant by ‘darkness’ and ‘light.’ The dictionary describes darkness as a ‘dark state’ – which could easily be taken for a state of being. Here, Jesus uses it to refer to the Jews who preferred ceremonial law, the tradition of the elders, ignorance, as well as the Gentiles in their ignorance and idolatry. Both of whom chose the vanity of their minds, chose to walk in their own path rather than accept and believe in the revelation of the Son of God. Jesus notes that they preferred this way over and above the light that “came into the world.” This light is not natural light, it is not corporeal light, it is not the light of natural reason rather it is the true light “that enlightens every man.” It is the light of divine revelation that is the fulfillment of the law and prophets. Christ is that light, the light of truth and goodness that is opposed to darkness – and not just opposed to it but who had come to conquer it. Incidentally, the first meaning given for the word ‘light’ in the dictionary is “God, the source of spiritual illumination and strength.”

This darkness that Jesus describes seems quite horrific – a darkness that leads to eternal darkness. Comparatively speaking, it may seem like we are not so bad. We have chosen to believe. We have chosen to walk in the light. But dare I say, that we have all had moments of darkness. We have all had experiences of darkness similar to my own. Even little things can bring upon us darkness. I sometimes compare these experiences to driving at night. I think its safe to assume that we would all rather drive during the daylight hours. Why? We prefer it because we can see better. We can see the road ahead. We can see the obstacles in our path. We can see our destination more clearly. When we drive at night, it is harder to see the road, it is harder to see the obstacles and we can easily miss our destination. The problem is, the more we drive at night the more comfortable we get doing so.

We must, therefore identify that which can lift us out of darkness. The Sacrament of Penance – confession – seems to be the necessary remedy. Living our lives without confession is like driving in the dark – all the time. Sin has a profound effect has on our ability to walk in the light of Christ. It does damage to our souls and our eternal destination. There many ways of thinking that bring about this kind darkness. If we think that we do not have sins or cannot identify our sins – we walk in darkness. If we think that we have no need for confession – we walk in darkness. If we refuse to come to the sacrament – we walk in darkness. If we continue to receive Holy Communion without confessing our sins – we walk in darkness. Even we, who have chosen to believe, who live lives of faith in the Son of God are not immune to darkness because we are all sinners and if we continue to walk in this darkness then we can become desensitized to it – we can get used to it and worse, comfortable in it. Confession and Holy Communion together conquers this darkness and helps us to move into the light. Confession and Communion – in that order. Going to confession – often – casts light upon our darkness. Confession overcomes the darkness and defeats it. And, as I mentioned earlier, that light is precisely God Himself – the source of spiritual illumination. There, in this sacrament, do we encounter the grace of His forgiveness. Coming to confession acknowledges our need for salvation; it recognizes the need for a savior – for we must not forget that we cannot free ourselves from sin, we cannot, in our own weakness, deliver ourselves from weakness; we need Christ, we need His grace, confession humbly affirms that need and allows to see Christ better.

It is characteristic of the Season of Lent that we pray for a renewal of our faith. We do so through the penitential practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as well as through the sacrifices we all have made on our own. We often pray that God will touch our hearts in a real and profound way so that Easter may truly be a joyful celebration for us. On this point, Pope Benedict XVI once commented: “The renewal of the Church in America and throughout the world depends on the renewal of the sacrament of penance.”Let us make this Lent truly joyful for our Lord as well by making a good confession. Let us heed the call to draw ever nearer to Him by first casting off the darkness and entering more fully into His light.



Fr. Jon Reardon


Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.




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