In a world mostly powered by electricity, even for our cars, we have in modern times experienced dangerous and even demoralizing blackouts. I say that last aspect because we all suffer from the thieves and other criminals that “make hay while the sun isn’t shining.” We know that storms with howling winds bring about blackouts, when great trees often topple and bring down wires when they do so. At other times, the blackout comes when the grid is overtaxed by too much call for power when very hot weather brings an uptick in air conditioning use. Even a community like mine, where all wiring is underground, still gets its electric service from overhead wires outside the community. Then for all of us there are no lights anywhere and all the electric gadgets in our homes cease functioning.

The ancient world when Jesus walked was “lit only by fire,” as one writer nicely put it. Oil lamps and candles brought the only relief from post sunset darkness. The same fire boiled the water and cooked the meals. So when Jesus preached about His coming into the world to bring light, the impact of His words was strong. We might miss the message at first, surrounded as we are by our fiber-optic bulbs, ever-ready generators and blinking appliances. Still, I believe we instinctively know that evil thrives when our soul’s life is strangled by sin.

Lent, if we allow it to be part of our preparation for celebrating Easter, will, through Scripture readings and meditative prayer, turn the inner spotlight on our sins. Not the peccadilloes that dance around the edges of our consciences, but those stubborn ingrained habits in our makeup for which we have made all kinds of excuses to keep in place.

“I’m only human” we say glibly when others notice our this and that which is truly sinful. So we have another drink before we leave to go home. Watch some more porn because nobody’s around. Steal a little from the supermarket, or the “Big Box” store because “they make enough money.”

I remember being shocked out of my naivete when I was a supermarket cashier and witnessed when a fur-wearing matron was caught by the store detective stealing sticks of butter inside rolls of toilet paper. It’s not always the poor who steal.

Add in our perhaps habitual lying, or the rash judgments about strangers and family members; and also the sexual selfishness. All the many ways we can use to pretend God doesn’t exist or care. In so many situations that popular expression “WWJD” (What Would Jesus Do ?) gets mocked more than minded, but it’s a good startup question when you’re deciding what to do. Especially when Lenten thoughts stir one’s conscience. On this matter, and on so many others, we have today’s Responsorial Psalm as a rejoinder:

“Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you.” “You” means our loving God.

As the little boy concluded to his Dad after viewing stained glass windows featuring the saints, “I think a saint is a person whom the light shines through.”

God love you and give you His peace.

Rev. Peterson’s Reading & Gospel Summary

Reading I: 2 Chronicles 36: 14-16, 19-23
A reflection on the evil of not paying attention to God’s prophets compels the Israelites to endure a 70 year exile in Babylon.

Reading II: Ephesians 2: 4-10
St. Paul tells Christians that they can be identified with Christ in that they too will be enthroned with Him in heaven.

The Gospel: John 3: 14-21
The dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus continues with a discussion about God sending His only Son to earth to bring light and love to the world.