When we are in darkness, even a small amount of light permits us to see. For example, if we are in the forest, the light from the moon allows us to navigate through the brush. If we are in a cave, the light from a flashlight gives us enough vision to negotiate the rocky terrain. But what happens if we have no light at all? Most likely, we would fall and injure ourselves.
The image of light and dark is a continued theme throughout scripture and it also appears in the world of art. The Italians call it chiaroscuro. This technique involves strong contrasts between light and dark tones in the paint to create a sense of drama. Often a very dark and somber scene is illumined by a single shaft of light or the primary focus of the painting is painted with brighter colors than the rest of the images that surround it. Caravaggio, Rubens, and Rembrandt used this technique quite often in their work.
In scripture, there is a contrast between those who were living in darkness being overwhelmed by light. These people were in darkness for several reasons. Perhaps it was because of a lack of knowledge or perhaps they were in darkness because of sin. For some, they are unable to see the light because of despair or anguish. Yet, God comes to them in the form of light which gives them hope.
Even today, some people are in darkness because of sin or addiction or a lack of hope. And God still comes to them to offer his light. The psalm response, The Lord is my light and my salvation, reminds us that true illumination comes from God alone. While we can become enlightened by study and wisdom, it is only when our hearts and minds are attuned to God that we are capable of seeing what is truly necessary and holy for our lives.
Jesus comes preaching the Kingdom of heaven and begins to call disciples to himself. That same invitation is issued to us. Jesus wants to be our light that calls us out of sin and despair, but we need to respond to his invitation.
This past week we marked the 41st anniversary of Roe vs. Wade which permitted the legalization of abortion. This is truly a darkness in the United States. On Facebook and other social media sites, when a story of a puppy or kitten being abused is reported, people are outraged and call for the death of the perpetrators of abuse. Yet, when a story about abortion is mentioned, many commentators profess favor for a woman’s right to choose. They are more concerned about an animal than a human being. Yet despite this darkness and evil, there are rays of hope as more individuals are fighting for the rights of those in the womb. A number of prominent individuals have reversed their position on abortion and more people are finding alternatives to abortion, such as adoption. We must continue to pray for God’s light to break through the darkness of sin and evil in order to bring about a positive change in our society.