Living in the Light
Opening Question: Have you ever know someone who was proud of what they did? Have you ever known someone who was ashamed of what they did? What's the difference between these people?
First Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10
Our God has a huge heart! He loved us and has shown us mercy that never ends. Once we were dead because of our sins. But God brought us alive again with Jesus. After all, God is saving you with his grace. God will raise us up together. And he will seat us with Jesus in heaven. God will do this at the end of time to show just how rich his grace is. It is greater than anything we can imagine! God is truly kind to us.
Remember, God saves you with his grace. And you will know you received his grace when you trust him. These are gifts God gives you. You can't do all this by yourselves. It's not just by doing something. If it were so, someone could brag about it. In fact, we are products of God's hands. We were created to be with Jesus so we could do the good things God planned for us to do.
Saul was in a hurry. He wanted to get to Damascus as fast as he could to arrest those Christians. They didn't live by God's Laws. They just believed in this "Jesus." Imagine people living without laws, especially without God's laws. They were like a pollution that threatened God's people. He needed to stamp out that pollution. He needed to make an example of those Christians.
Suddenly, a light from the sky stopped Saul in his tracks. "Saul! Saul! Why do you hurt me?" the voice from a figure in the light asked.
"Who are you, sir?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus," the voice responded.
That day, Saul stopped arresting Christians. Three days later, he became a Christian. And for the rest of his life, he led other people to Jesus. Saul knew that Jesus taught a better way to live than to simply follow rules out of fear. Jesus taught people to love each other. Because of God's love, Saul became Paul, the great leader of the early Church.
For St. Paul, that light on the road was a gift from God. He didn't earn it. He didn't deserve it. But God gave him the light, God's gift, to show him the way to heaven and God's love.
Bridging Question: How would people act if others could always see what they did? How would it be different from the way they act now?
Gospel: John 3:14-21
Jesus said to Nicodemus the Pharisee:
Just as Moses lifted up a snake image made from bronze in
the Son of Man needs to be lifted up,
so that everyone who places their trust in him
will live forever in him.
God loved the world so very much
that he gave the world his only Son.
Everyone who places their trust in the Son
will not be lost,
but will live forever.
God did not send his Son into the world
to judge the world 'guilty,'
but to save the world.
The person who places his trust in the Son
does not receive a sentence of 'guilty.'
But the person who does not trust the Son is 'guilty,'
because he did not trust in the name of God's only Son.
This is God's judgment.
God's Light, his only Son, came into the world,
but people preferred the darkness to God's Light
because they did evil things.
Everyone who does evil hates God's Light
and won't come to his Light,
because what they did will be shown as evil and will be rejected.
But everyone who is faithful to God
comes to his Light,
to show what they do is done in God.
Janice and Sylvia knew each other from school. Once in awhile they would talk to each other, share a joke, and answer homework questions for each other. Both girls were good students. Both were respected by teachers and fellow students. Outside of school, they were very different from each other.
Janice attended church with her family and was involved with scouts. She and her family spent time together: playing games, going to movies, watching each others' sports games. Janice loved softball and soccer. More important, she loved to be with her family and her friends.
Sylvia spent a lot of time at home alone. Her parents were too busy with their jobs and their fun. But, Sylvia liked it that way. She could do what she wanted, when she wanted, as long as she kept her grades up. Sylvia didn't join anything. The only place she liked to visit was to the mall.
One day, Sylvia got bored and decided to call Janice on the phone. "Hey! Want to go to the mall with me?" Sylvia asked Janice.
"Sure. Sounds like fun." Janice replied. It was one of the rare days Janice did not have something going on.
Janice liked to look in the store windows and try on clothes like any other girl. But Sylvia had other ideas. "Come on," Sylvia said. "Let's go into the jewelry store." Janice tagged along.
Janice was so awed by what she saw, she didn't notice Sylvia slip behind the counter. Before she knew it, Sylvia tugged at her shirt sleeve. "Let's go," Sylvia whispered.
Janice wanted to look at other stores, but Sylvia took her arm and made a straight line for the mall exit. "What's going on?" Janice asked.
"You'll see," Sylvia answered in a low voice.
In the mall parking lot, Sylvia turned to Janice. "Promise you won't tell anyone about this," Sylvia said with a serious look in her eyes. Before Janice could say anything, Sylvia showed her a bracelet from the jewelry store. "Pretty cool, eh?" Sylvia whispered.
"Did you steal that?" Janice said.
"Shhhh!" Sylvia whispered as she returned the bracelet to her pocket. "Remember. You promised not to say anything."
"I did not!" Janice shot back.
"Liar!" Sylvia said. She turned and walked away. As Sylvia disappeared in the parking lot, so did the friendship between the girls.
On her way home with her mom, Janice was quiet. "Dear God," Janice prayed to herself, "please help me. I know I don't want to live like Sylvia. She hides things. She seems to live in the dark." Half way home, Janice began to talk to her mom. "I have a problem with that girl, Sylvia..." she began. Janice wanted everything to be out in the light to be seen, not in the darkness to be hidden.
God the Father wants us to live in the light, so everything we do is seen. He does not want us to live in the dark, where we hide things from each other. More important, God wants us to live in his Light, Jesus. In other words, when we walk with Jesus, we live the want God wants us to. With Jesus, we won't need to hide anything.
Closing Question: Who would you rather have as a friend, someone without secrets or someone who has many secrets? A good person or an evil person? Why?