A third dimension of transformation is the move from darkness to light. At first glance, this move seems so obvious that everyone would want to make it as soon as possible. But it’s not so. Jesus said that we prefer darkness to light (John 13:9). How so?
Well, let’s begin by remembering that John is speaking metaphorically. ‘Darkness’ here is not a literal darkness, but a spiritual darkness that deceives us into believing it is light. And that’s what Jesus said we prefer–a darkness that we try to call light.
What kind of darkness is this? It is the darkness of egotism. But because the ego can say nothing negative about itself, we call the darkness light. In that way we never have to face the truth. We prefer the ‘darkness’ of egotism and justify our preference by calling it light. It is Jesus who names egotism for what it is: darkness, plain and simple.
How did Jean Vanier have to face and overcome this? Precisely in those whose Promethian/Ayn Rand philosophy of life would have persuaded him that to spend his life caring for the severely disabled was tantamount to throwing his life away. In a “survival of the fittest” world, only the strong make it–only the bold, bright, bejewled, and beautiful matter. It was unbelievable to such folks that Vanier would waste his pedigree on the last and the lost.
But Jesus transformed Vanier, enabling him to see that what ‘the powerful’ called light was, in fact, darkness. Jesus transformed him to see that God is found in those at the bottom more nearly than in those at the top (and those who fight to stay on top), and that caring for “the least of these” is caring for Christ himself!
So much of contemporary Christianity is in need of the transformation from darkness to light. We still too often prefer the darkness (but referred to as ‘light’) where egotism causes us to equate our kingdoms with the Kingdom of God. Ours is the darkness of eyes blinded by the deception of pride, power, possessiveness, perjorativeness, plans, programs, and the partisanship they create.
People like Jean Vanier walk humbly into the room, and our hubris is put to flight. And in the gentle spirit of people like him, Jesus invites us to move from darkness to light–to be transformed.