Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Light Shines in the Darkness...

Franciscan University chose John 1:5 as its meditation theme for the March for Life. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." Any reader familiar with the usus antiquior will know that the prologue to the Gospel of John is read at the end of virtually every Mass. I submit that this Gospel passage is something to keep close to one's heart, especially at times like the day of the March, when facing a collective affront to the almighty and eternal God Who is the author of life.

Firstly, this passage drives home the Incarnation of the eternal Word, Who provided for all of creation. For "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God," and "He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made." Now He gives and sustains life since "in Him was the life and the life was the light of men," even as our first parents Adam and Eve took of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in disobedience to God's command. Man thus knew of sin, what it was like to turn one's back towards God. This should have ended badly, yet in His loving goodness God took us from a disastrous end and not only did He restore our original state, He "redirected human beings to a supernatural end" (Dei Filius), that of eternal communion with the Most Holy Trinity, as God now revealed His interior life. The eucatastrophe of human history, Tolkien called it.

I find its explanation of St. John the Baptist's life and mission to be a fundamental aspect of the Christian life. Each baptized Christian should follow his example, in imitation of the one who "came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light." As St. Catherine of Siena remarked, "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." We must pick up and come to love the Cross, so that we might be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect and so that others might come to do the same. We on our own ability cannot convert the whole world, certainly. What would be the point without grace? With grace each one of us probably cannot convert the world without other humans. So what if each of us followed the Cross, slowly but surely taking on more people?

We must stand as a sign of contradiction, being in the world but not of it. There is a fundamental tension between the world, even when it sometimes matches with the Truth of divine revelation, and the Christian way of the Cross. Again one can call to mind the perfectly just man of Plato, and one sees that the one who pursues justice for its own sake-and we now through revelation that it is identical to Love- will be tortured and killed as he (He, actually) takes on the appearance of injustice. "He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not."

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth." This gives us the ability to become children of God, and as we see later in the Gospel, this is through being born again of water and Spirit, since "...to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God," as he sanctified all of human existence: pregnancy, childbirth, childhood and family life, work, prayer (through the institution of the sacraments and of sanctifying grace), even and especially death.

You think this might be good. I submit that it's just a short reflection that was topped the other day. Fr. Dan Pattee, TOR led the Holy Hour for Life prior to our departure from Franciscan University for D.C. and preached on John 1:1-15. It was an outstanding homily on Christ as the eternal Word and the Life. And he didn't even have to use logos or the Word to get his point across. He drew an analogy to God as constantly tending His garden, and Christ is the nutrient sustaining it. It was incredible.

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