Choosing Light or the Shadows

Christ is Risen, Alleluia! As Christians we are heirs to the extraordinary reality of the Resurrection. We celebrate this miracle not simply on one day but throughout our lives. Jesus of Nazareth, put to death on the Cross, rose bodily from the dead, a miracle so shocking that it transformed the disciples who encountered him. It is an utterly singular event in history.

Why Do Many Turn Away?

Yet why does this miracle no longer shake the world? It would seem that the more time passes since Jesus’ Resurrection, the more people turn away from Him, or worse yet, remain indifferent to Him. Why? This question has pressed upon my heart for several years now. Why do so many of us choose Barabbas over the Savior?

Today’s well-known passage from the Gospel of John explores this question through the imagery of light and darkness. Jesus declares to Nicodemus, “The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light.”

As I pondered these words, I was first struck by the strangeness of them. Why should anyone love darkness? Don’t we naturally move towards light?

Choosing Light or the Shadows

And yet, if we reflect upon this more deeply, we can see that the sensibility for light does not happen instantly but develops over time. I am reminded of my one-year-old son, who as a newborn, like all of us, came into the world with eyes shut. He had come from the darkness of the womb into a startling world of bright light; it was simply too much to take in. With time, however, his eyes would open for longer, as he grew used to the sensation of light.

One recalls, too, Plato’s famous Allegory of the Cave. We read of people who have lived in the cave and grown used to the shadows cast on the wall, perceiving them to reflect reality, until one of the prisoners steps outside and discovers the real world, brilliant with sunlight. When he urges his fellows to come outside with him—to encounter true light—they refuse, content to stay where they are.

Reflecting this story upon the Gospel passage, we gain some insight into the people who “loved darkness rather than the light.” Why do they stay among shadows, rather than live in light? For one, inertia keeps them from making a decision. It is much easier to stay where one is, rather than make a turn. Secondly, only those who recognize the poverty of their life in the cave—that the shadows are mere shadows—will experience a desire for more. Without that deep yearning for something more, something beyond the world one is living in, one will never bother coming to know Christ, the true light. Thirdly, the story of Christ is regarded by many as simply ‘too good to be true.’ Rather than risking disappointment, they hold Him off at a distance as mere legend.

Light Invites Truth

The strongest reason for those who choose darkness is explained in the Gospel. Light, though liberating, makes demands upon us. It reveals us to ourselves with the lens of truth. Indeed, it renders us suddenly visible to all around us. One can no longer hide! Thus, the dividing line becomes apparent: those who choose light allow themselves to be seen, for they belong to truth and accomplish the works of truth. Those who remain among shadows are afraid, on some level, of being seen. Shame confines them to the dark.

Thus, many people will not choose the light; many will continue to turn away from Jesus, the true light. Yet we ought not cease to invite people to come outside and encounter Christ. Every person is created with a desire and longing for what is true. If they will not come, let them at least see the brightness of Christ’s light reflected in us. One day they might just come to know Him for themselves.

[Readings: Acts 5:17-26; Jn 3:16-21]

Radhika Sharda, MD

Radhika Sharda is a practicing physician and a convert to the Catholic faith from a Hindu background. She has written a book of essays on literature, Savour, which may be found on Amazon. She lives in Raleigh, NC, with her three young boys.


  1. Cheryl J. on April 11, 2024 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks Radhika, how blessed that you were drawn to the light of Christ!

  2. Jerry DeMelo Jr on April 10, 2024 at 4:33 pm

    Fabulous reflection. Thank you

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