We live in seemingly darker times. In John 6:60-69, we learn the source of our salvation.
Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father.”
As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer walked with him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
I was asked by a friend and reader of these pages to address our darker times. While reflecting on her theme, I came across this passage, which was the reading for Mass on Saturday, which was certainly timely. Perhaps God was speaking to her directly through daily scripture.
First, there have been many dark times. Humanity has risen anew from them. Think of the Inquisition. Think of World War I and World War II. Think of the Dark Ages. These are just a few examples. In all these times, our faith has sustained us.
Second, while organized religion has been the source of some of the darker times, Jesus teaches us that God does not inflict us with difficulty or pain to punish us. He provides us with relief in His glory. Some would have you believe that if we are ill or disabled or experiencing problems, it is because God is punishing up. Jesus says no. The Father loves us too much to do that. The Father provides for us. The God who would forgive us our sins, who would forgive us for crucifying Him, surely would not inflict us with maladies instead. Rather, at our prayers He would answer us with relief, even if He might seem to take His time.
Third, since the source of these darker times is not God but man, who can win this battle? Who is more powerful than God? Did God not create heaven and earth? Did God not create all living things, including man? Then it is God who will bring light to the world. Man cannot stand against Him.
Today’s passage says, “There are some of you who do not believe. Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe.” And it says, “Many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him.” Is this not the trouble with our world today? Many say they believe in God or perhaps once believed and stopped believing, or even perhaps believed but have been led astray, but now do not believe. Or they believe in a Jesus and a Father and a Holy Spirit who is not as presented to us in the Gospels.
But it also says there were still a group of core believers. “Do you also want to go?” Jesus asked them. Simon Peter asked, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” They still believed and would not abandon their faith and Jesus’ teachings.
We will arise out of these darker times because we still have faith. And if we have faith, we have hope. And if we have hope, we have future. We can share that faith and hope and future with others to help all emerge from this darkness. We are the lamp that cannot be hidden. We are the lamp that must shine, must give light to the world, the light of Christ.
What is the light of Christ? It is not to hate but to love. It is not to be intolerant but to be inclusive. It is not to ignore the needs of others but to give aid. It is not hoard but to share. It is not to seek vengeance but to forgive. It is not to judge and condemn but to seek to understand and seek repentance. It is not to seek self glory but to glorify God. It is not to seek riches and wealth but to seek the kingdom of God. These are all things that Jesus taught us in the Gospels.
The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are not a God of punishment and pain. They are a God of love. They are not a God of darkness. Go now and share the light of God’s love and dispel the darkness of those who do not believe.
We will arise out of these darker times. Through the grace of God. Because we believe.