Illuminating our dirt and grime
My morning drive to my parish office is eastward, so unless it is cloudy, I’m driving into the sun. I love seeing the early morning sunshine and God’s beautiful brushstrokes of color filling the sky. Yet I also get annoyed by the spots of dust, dirt, and salt that spatter across my windshield. I spray and wipe the windshield to clear it.
Jesus’ words to Nicodemus about coming into the light or preferring darkness come to me whenever I spray and wipe my windshield. It moves me to consider what I’m keeping in the darkness. What sins am I hiding in the shadows that I am afraid to bring into the light? Why am I afraid to bring them into the light?
There are many reasons we prefer to remain in the darkness of our sins. Whether out of pride or ignorance, we may not be aware of our sins. They lurk in the darkness, just out of reach of our consciousness, waiting for an opportunity to pop out and raise their claws. We might become frustrated or angry with a family member or co-worker and react by lashing out at them. We might become so overwhelmed with desire that we binge eat or spree shop or do something worse. When we are not aware of our sins, it is very difficult to control them.
We might also be ashamed of our sins. We may not want to face our errors because it means admitting we are weak and vulnerable. We may carry those sins and allow them to weigh us down more and more until we are spiritually – and sometimes physically and emotionally – debilitated.
We may not have the strength or desire to go through the trouble of changing. Sometimes the habits of our sins can feel like an addiction. While we know we are sinning and may have a desire to stop, it seems that we just can’t stop. Temptations draw us deeper and deeper into the clutches of the seeming sense of control. We know it takes work to overcome the addiction of our sinfulness, and we’re just not sure we want to go through that rehab.
Whatever our reasons for remaining in the darkness of our sins, Jesus invites us into the light. The Light of Christ illuminates our sinfulness, exposing the spatter of dust, dirt, and salty impediments on our hearts and souls. The light shines on our sins through our guilt: Why do I keep reacting that way? We become enlightened about our sins when others point them out to us: Why do you treat me that way? Our sins are exposed by the light through a good examination of conscience.
It’s important for us to know that as the light exposes our sins, we cannot clean the spatter away on our own. We cannot overcome our sins by our own effort. We need to pull the lever of reconciliation and spray our hearts and souls with the Holy Spirit and allow the wipers of God’s mercy to wipe away the grime.