Do you find yourself closing your office door when you hear someone coming down the hall? And, if so, why? Is it because you’re working hard and don’t want to be interrupted? Or could it be that you’re “hardly working” and don’t want to be caught? When you’re on your computer and find yourself hiding the screen is it because you’re working on sensitive issues involving corporate security and confidentiality? Or is it because you’re sensitive to the fact that you’re on a prohibited website and you feel less than secure and confident about what will happen if your boss finds out? In other words, what are the things you would rather do in the “darkness” than in the “light?”
There was once a large furniture store. Every two or three years the store was destroyed by fire. And every two or three years the store was rebuilt, bigger and better, with the insurance money the owners received because of the fire. While no one would have suggested that there was anything sinister afoot, it was noted that, in addition to the relative predictability of the occurrences, the fires almost always started at night.
Nicodemus came to Jesus at night in order to avoid risk to his reputation. It probably would have been safer for him to stay away altogether, but there was something about Jesus that drew him. Later, Nicodemus would come again, in the light, to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. Nicodemus would move out of the darkness. He would no longer feel the need to close his door or to hide his relationship with the light.
Corrupt business practices and banking arrangements conducted in language that will later be sanitized by corporate lawyers; files encrypted and hidden behind changing passwords to protect against the possibility of incriminating information getting into the wrong hands; political gifts awarded to insure silence about what is better left unspoken; unexplained fires and puzzling accounting practices… Works done in darkness so that they “…might not be exposed.” Do we conduct our affairs in the light? Or are we more nocturnal in our habits?
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.