Imagine receiving a letter that tells you that you are light and that we are all to “live as children of light.” Most of the time we wander about in a kind of darkness: We resent and are suspicions of others; we lose our sense of direction; we see the world around us as confused and dwelling in falsehoods. To such a world of division and anxiety, the letter to the Ephesians is a marvel. It prays fervently for the unity of Christ’s body while it speaks to our deepest personal struggles with darkness. It names our struggles and reminds us of who we are in Christ: We are to “live in love, as Christ loved us” (5:2). In the face of division and difficulty, this letter contains the central message of the gospel for our Lenten journey.
The key image in the passage for today is the light of Christ. That light exposes every human impulse toward darkness. Lent demands that we turn toward the light seen in the life and teachings of Christ. On the one hand, this means that our hidden struggles with human greed and unfruitful works become painfully visible to ourselves before God. On the other, we are invited to turn to the visible light of God’s grace. Amid our struggle between truth and untruth, between our true and false selves, and between division and exclusion, Christ shines a light.
I recall being lost with three companions on an unfamiliar mountain in the darkness before dawn. Then the dawn came, and we saw where we were. This was but a small foretaste of the way our passage ends: “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
God of resurrection promise, grant to us a turning to your light so that we may see your way. Amen.
The two readings from the Hebrew scriptures focus on the life of David. In First Samuel, the prophet is sent to anoint the next king of Israel. God chooses David not because of outward appearance but because of his heart. David is not perfect, nor is his life always easy. Psalm 23 declares David’s trust in God in good times and bad times. Just as Samuel has anointed David with oil, so does the Lord anoint him. The New Testament readings both employ images of light and darkness. Ephesians instructs us to live as children of light, not darkness. In John, Jesus heals a blind man and brings him from darkness into light. Some religious leaders protest because although their physical eyes can see, their spiritual vision is darkened.
Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13. How often do you judge others by outward appearances or worldly successes? How can you “look upon the heart” to judge leaders in your community?
Read Psalm 23. When have you experienced Jesus’ presence with you in the wilderness?
Read Ephesians 5:8-14. How does God’s light help you persist through struggles within yourself or in the world around you?
Read John 9:1-41. What questions does Jesus ask you? How do your questions of Jesus help you understand him?
Respond by posting a prayer.