Fourth Sunday in Lent B 2012
The Rev. Leonard Oakes
We are now on the fourth Sunday in Lent. We are gradually entering the most solemn part of our liturgical year, the season of the Holy Week. On your personal journey with God, how are you doing so far? Have there been things in your life you promised to change that came into effect? Or are you still clinging to the very things that keep you in darkness?
How’s your relationship with your family, your community? Did you find it more wonderful and worthwhile? Or are you still staying in your most comfortable zone unwilling to give up your emptiness?
I must say, it’s not too late if you are catching up. In fact, it’s never too late. God is loving and just. Be willing to let go of those things that hinder you from following Christ. Let go of your comfort zones and explore the possibilities of loving God in all others. Let go of darkness and let light guide you.
There was a story about a beautiful little girl whose name is Hailey. Hailey loves to go to the department store with her mother. In their window shopping moments, Hailey saw a pearl necklace at $ 1 dollar. She started jumping up and down and pulling her mother’s dress begging , “mom, mom , I want those pearls.” Her mother said “are you sure you want those pearls?” “Yes mom, I want those pearls, they’re beautiful.” So dear mom bought the $1 dollar pearls for Hailey. In the evening, Hailey’s loving father found out what the mother bought little Hailey and just smiled, read a book for Hailey and kissed her goodnight.
One week after, the father as usual would read a bedtime story for little Hailey. After the bedtime story in that particular night, the father asked Hailey, “Hailey, do you love daddy? And little Hailey said, “Yes daddy, I love you.” And the father said, “Hailey, give me your pearls” And little Hailey pouted and said, “Ah, ah, you can have my dolls, you can have my Barbie and her friends, but not my pearls.” And daddy said, “Oh it’s ok. I don’t need a doll. Thank you, I love you, good night” and he kissed the girl.
One week after, the father read another bed time story. After closing the book, the father told Hailey, “Hailey, do you love daddy?” and the little girl said, “Yes daddy, you know I love you.” And the father, said, “give me your pearls” and little Hailey said, “No daddy, no. you can have my top, you can have my doll house, even my little white pony with a pink tail, but you cannot have my pearls, they’re my favorite.” And daddy said, “Oh it’s ok, I don’t need the toy house, I don’t need the pony with a pink tail.” And daddy kisses his little girl and says goodnight. Seven days after, the father again began reading a bedtime story, and at the end of the bedtime story, the father said again, “Hailey, do you love daddy?” and little Hailey, with tears in her eyes, picks up the pearls from a toy closet and says, “Daddy, I love you, here are my pearls, you can have them.” And the little Hailey had tears streaming down her cheeks and the father smiled, pulled out from his pocket a blue velvet case, opened it and picked out real pearls, a necklace with real pearls and tells Hailey, “Hailey, I want you to have this. What you have now are plastic toys. I didn’t want you to have those; I want you to have real pearls.”
That is a wise exchange. That is a logical exchange. That is the kind of exchange God wants us to have. You see, the evil inside us always tempting us to exchange foolish things. Work and work and work, forget your kids, forget your wives, husbands. Foolish exchange, watch tv and watch violent and disturbing movies.
But God wants you to give him your bad habits so that he will turn them into good. Give God what you don’t deserve and He will give you so much more.” God will give you your dream, he’s going to fulfill your ambition, and He’s going to lift you up from loneliness and depression. He’s going to relieve you from you bodily pain. Let go of those things that put you down and things that separate you from the love of God. They are not worth it.
When I was in elementary grades, I used to cut school by sneaking out the back door just for the love of spiders (Gagamba), marbles (Holens/bolintik) and rubber bands (Lastiko). Oy aminin, yung mga mahilig ng jolens at lastiko nung bata pa. What’s your favorite childhood game? Kindly ask you neighbor what’s his/her childhood made believe experience. Remember those days when you pretended to be a mom or dad, building a house ? (bahay-bahayan/ bal-ballay)
Anyway, so i had to sneak out from class to have more fun. I had to be careful; I did not want anyone familiar seeing me wander around when I was supposed to be in class. I took back streets and went to places none of my relatives would normally go. While I took these precautions all the time I was sneaking around, I would wonder if the teachers would call home, or whether or not I could forge a note the next day that would convince the teachers I had been sick. It all worked out. Later on however, things didn’t work out so well. My mom found it and I was called to the principal’s office. In those moments of discovery, I realized, often painfully so, that all the works I’ve gone through, all the attempts to hide and conceal my actions just so I could have a bit of fun, was not worth it. I had to let go and say, “in every thing, there is a season. Now is the time to learn.”
I just wonder if those kids at serramonte malls, jollibee or at 7 eleven during class hours have ever been caught?
I could imagine, each of us had our similar experiences as a child. You have done something wrong, whether deliberately or by mistake and then lo and behold, you were caught and you wished then with all your heart to have not been caught and hadn’t done what you did.
Something always seem to mess up our secret pleasures; something always seems to happen to us when we do wrong, and it happens to us whether or not we are caught right away or not.
Jesus speaks to this situation in today’s gospel reading. There we find these words, “For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
The lesson is clear here, but bears repeating because we are a people who continually test the truths of God, we continually turn from what we know is right in the hope that somehow it might not be true in our particular case. How often have we come to hate the light of God, just a little bit, how often have we come to fear it, because we know that it exposes us for what we are? How often have we become angry when we have had heard the truth about ourselves uttered by another person, angry at the fact that we have been found out or pinned down as it were, and angry at the messenger who spoke the truth? Darkness was overcome by light in the beginning of creation. Light always prevails.
This season of Lent and the coming Holy Week and beyond, let go of darkness and embrace the light. Give it all to God and he will be there for you as you cross your fears to see the light. Amen.