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Thoughts on Penance at Advent

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him, there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

John 1:5-7
  Here is the message we heard from him and pass on to you:  that God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to be sharing in his life while we walk in the dark, our words and our lives are a lie; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, then we share together a common life, and we are being cleansed from every sin by the blood of Jesus, his Son. The word of the Lord. John tells us that God is light and in God there is no darkness.  Jesus is the light that drives out the darkness of evil and the darkness of sin. But Jesus doesn’t just drive out darkness.  In God’s own mysterious and powerful way, God actually uses the darkness at times. I remember being invited to dinner to a friend’s home in Hideaway Hills, south of Lancaster.  There were no outside lights.  We arrived in the daylight, but when we were leaving it was dark.  The only light was the porch light and the light coming from the windows of  the house.  I have never seen the stars the way I saw them that night.  They were the brightest and closest I’ve ever seen them… because of the darkness. Think about seeds that will not grow into plants unless they are buried in the dark soil.  Think about us who were nourished in the darkness of our mother’s womb. Tonight we come to face the darkness in our lives, our weakness and our sins. How can God use the darkness of sin to bring about light? to bring about life? When we sin and acknowledge our sin and trust in God’s mercy, can this bring us to be more humble and grateful, more open to receive God’s mercy?  Can God use our weakness to help us accept others when they are weak?  Then the grace of God, the light of Christ is at work in us…conquering the darkness within us. There is a story about a man who was visiting his friend.  They both appreciated works of art.  The one man had a gorgeous vase in his living room which the visitor noticed and admired.  His friend went over and picked up the vase and handed it to his guest to examine it more closely.  As he turned it around he dropped the vase and it broke into many pieces.  Of course, he apologized profusely and then he said to his host, ”Give me the broken pieces.  Let me take them home and I will repair the vase.”  The host had little hope that it could be repaired, but he reluctantly gave the broken pieces to his friend. When his friend returned a week later and showed him the vase, the owner was astounded.  It was not only repaired, but it was more beautiful than before it had been broken. The man had used a gold substance to put the pieces together.  Where the pieces had been broken there now appeared what seemed like golden threads scattered throughout the vase. Nothing we can do or fail to do can be so dark that God cannot bring good out of it…even our sins. Julian of Norwich says, “First there is sin, then the recovery from sin.  All is grace." When we admit our sin and weakness and give our broken pieces to Jesus, he not only conquers the darkness but uses it to bring about good.  Jesus is our light, and he is more powerful than any darkness. By Sister Louis Mary Passeri, OP

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