Wednesday, July 27, 2005

No Part Dark

After yesterday’s long reflection on the nature of evil and the devil, we’ll take a (shorter) look at ourselves, and the need to be free from anything within us that would negate the will of God. The Lord puts it this way: “When your eye is sound your whole body is full of light, but when it is not sound your body is full of darkness… If your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light” (Luke 11:34-36).

Jesus is not so much concerned
with the benefits of good eyesight for the body as He is for the clarity of a healthy and pure inner vision, which enables us to know and do the will of God. St Paul prays that you “may have the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19). For this to bear its intended and full fruit, there must be “no part dark” within us.

I said yesterday that evil is the absence of good, as darkness is the absence of light. Sin removes light and hence increases darkness in our souls. The whole work of our purification, our prayer and asceticism, is to come to the state of soul that is without darkness. This is a life’s work, but it is no less urgent just because it takes time. We learn from St John that “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (1John 1:5). Not being God, we may wish to make our apologies and quickly withdraw from the labors of living in the light. But St John still urges to follow closely Christ the Light: we “ought to walk in the same way in which He walked…Everyone who hopes in him purifies himself as He is pure” (1:6; 3:3). A tall order, but with God all things are possible. In any case, what is the alternative? Wherever light recedes, darkness advances by default.

St Paul urges us to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness,” and to “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:11,8). Darkness and light may be metaphors, but they indicate essential realities of our lives. The consequences of allowing darkness to fill us are too horrible to imagine (though we ignore this at our peril). Even if we are mostly light within, we must not get complacent, but rather persevere until there is no part dark. Would you be content with having no cancer in your body—except in one place? Spiritual darkness spreads even faster than cancer.

I will close with an excerpt from a blessing we use for candles, and you’ll see why: “…as the visible light of the candles dispels all darkness and shadow, so let the invisible Flame of the Holy Spirit, which illuminates our hearts, cast out the darkness of sin, so that with the eye of an enlightened soul, we may see that which is pleasing to You and necessary for our salvation, and having triumphed over the dark afflictions of this world, we may in the end attain light everlasting…”

Go for it. No part dark.