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The Fourth Sunday of Lent- Deacon Bill Tunilla 

A Boss Once Told Me

My Boss once told me when I was a young sergeant, “You write your evaluation 365 days a year, I write it once.  Those words of wisdom stuck with me throughout my Air Force career and still do to this day.  What led to the counseling session was what I called Monday Night Football syndrome.  On the East coast the games started at 9pm and ended at midnight or later.  Not being a night person I would oversleep and be late for work.  After a half season of warnings I got called into the office and heard those words, “You write your evaluation 365 days a year, I write it once.  I could have taken them as a threat, but I respected my boss for he was a good man with an excellent foundation and he had the best intentions and common good for us all in mind.  Like a loving and caring father he cared enough to point out paths veering into darkness and self-destruction to ones of light, filled with honor, honesty and self- discipline.  Still as an adult the choice was mine.

The Gospel of John is filled with many dualisms and today we hear one on light and darkness.  In Alaska we have great examples of light and darkness.   It is either light or it is dark with little middle ground.

Many find the dark winters depressing, and perhaps we feel more fear and danger in the darkness.  It is easier to get lost and lose our sense of location. As our days grow longer the light warms our earth and we are uplifted by the additional sunlight. Light is an essential element in our lives, giving us strength and energy, it provides direction to fully navigate the road ahead. 

John tells us the light came into the world, not to condemn it but to save all people. Unfortunately, many did not pay attention to the light that walked amongst them.  Jesus, the light came to give warmth, strength, and hope.  He came to give direction, like a loving boss.  Yet despite all that Jesus taught and shared of himself, the people still preferred darkness.  

You have heard the saying, the more things change the more they stay the same.  The book of Job tells us, “They are rebels against the light.  They do not recognize its ways.  They do not stay in its path.  When there is no light the murder rises to kill the poor and needy; in the night he acts like a thief.  The eye of the adulterer watches for the twilight, he says, “No eye will see me.” He puts a mask over his face; in the dark he breaks into houses. 

By day they shut themselves in; they do not know the light.  Indeed for all of them morning is deep darkness; then they recognize the terrors of deep darkness (Jb 24: 13-17).” Sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it.  Like the daily news headlines.

But there is hope for the world.  We can find direction, meaning and sustenance through the light, through Jesus. While physical light brings us warmth, strength and direction, we cannot find our true purpose and survive without a relationship with Jesus Christ, the light sent into the world.  As St. Paul tells us, it is through Christ that we have been brought to life from the darkness of sin.  It is through the light of Christ that salvation is ours through faith.

When are now entering the 4th week of Lent which is Laetare Sunday, from the Latin it means to rejoice or be joyful.  Today is the perfect time to rejoice as we reflect upon casting out the darkness from our personal lives. 

Perhaps this lent like me you have been working on a bad habit that drives us away God or adding a good habit to bring one closer to God.  And if you haven’t done anything it’s not too late to look at our vices this Lent.  Do we lack prayer, or fail to attend Sunday Mass?  Maybe we drink too much or use drugs to avoid the path God is seeking us to take. Are we addicted to gaming, social media, pornography or are we unfaithful to our marriage promises?  

Perhaps our darkness is in failing to make time for our family or our church while we accumulate more earthly goods or seek self-centered adventures?  Maybe we are doing fine with all that but still avoid sharing the light of Christ. 

We have been called to share the good news and to cast out the darkness of society.  What have we done lately to cast out the darkness of arrogance and ignorance in our world?  What can we do to cast out the darkness of poverty that is so rampant in our comfortable first world society?  How can we help to cast out the darkness of violence, against people, groups, or society? 

We must build our lives and form our consciences based on the foundation of God’s Truth and not mans.  A foundation of man is like building a house on sand.  When the winds and waves come it will fold like a house of cards and be washed away.  One built on God’s truth is like building a house whose foundation was laid on rock.  When the winds and waves come it will not be shaken.   

Our bishops touched on this with their pastoral letter “Living in the Image and Likeness of God” when they talked about forming a fully informed conscience.  The bishops also touched on relativism.  Relativism is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid and that all truth is relative to the individual or in other words there are no absolute truths.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says otherwise.  CCC 1022,1023 -  tells us death puts an end to human life as the time open either to accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.  Each person receives their eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death in a particular judgement that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven –through a purification or immediately; or immediate and everlasting damnation.

In the end the choice is up to us on whether we choose to live in the light or choose darkness.  God gave each one of us a free will and will not force His hand.  He is a God of infinite love and mercy.   A love and mercy we can’t wrap our arms around.  He loved us so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  On the other hand our God with His infinite mercy won’t stand in our way or interfere with our decision if we choose darkness. 

As we continue on our journey of life let us keep in mind, that each day we write our evaluation……while our God will only write our names once in the book of life.


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