Friday of the First Week of Lent
The first reading features a very visceral complaint against God: “the Lord’s way is not fair!” Like a child willing to say anything to get out of punishment, we complain to God about the unfairness of His ways, of how a good person gone bad may be condemned, while the bad person gone good may be saved. God responds that His ways are fair, but ours unfair. Based on whether you have sinned and are unrepentant, or sinned and repented, you are treated accordingly. The Psalm for today lets this realization sink in: God is truly fair, and so “who can stand?” So, like the child that has accepted the guilt, we cry “out of the depths.” We see where we have gone without God, and are terrified like a watchman in the night, with nothing but a weapon and torch to guard against what lurks in the darkness.
The gospel reading then takes things even further: it is not only actions we have done which have placed us in this darkness, but the thoughts and movements in our hearts. The darkness is not merely something external, something “out there.” It has made its home within us. The actions which God rightly condemns us for have their origins in us. But the darkness in us does not have the last word. The ending of both the first reading and the Psalm today make it abundantly clear: God wishes to banish the darkness from us. The sentinel knows that dawn will banish the darkness in a way that his small torch cannot, and Israel knows that the Lord can banish our inner darkness in a way that we cannot. As we consider the words of Scripture today, we must take a hard look at where the darkness lies within us so that we can call upon the Lord to banish it.