Friday, April 13, 2012

Why I Believe

The creation account begins symbolically with the creation of light.  The sun and the moon are created only on the fourth day.  The creation account calls them lights, set by God in the firmament of heaven.  In this way he deliberately takes away the divine character that the great religions had assigned to them.  No, they are not gods.  They are shining bodies created by the one God.  But they are preceded by the light through which God’s glory is reflected in the essence of the created being.

What is the creation account saying here?  Light makes life possible.  It makes encounter possible.  It makes communication possible.  It makes knowledge, access to reality and to truth, possible.  And insofar as it makes knowledge possible, it makes freedom and progress possible.  Evil hides.  Light, then, is also an expression of the good that both is and creates brightness.  It is daylight, which makes it possible for us to act.  To say that God created light means that God created the world as a space for knowledge and truth, as a space for encounter and freedom, as a space for good and for love.  Matter is fundamentally good, being itself is good.  And evil does not come from God-made being, rather, it comes into existence only through denial.  It is a “no”.

At Easter, on the morning of the first day of the week, God said once again: “Let there be light”.  The night on the Mount of Olives, the solar eclipse of Jesus’ passion and death, the night of the grave had all passed.  Now it is the first day once again – creation is beginning anew.  “Let there be light”, says God, “and there was light”: Jesus rises from the grave.  Life is stronger than death.  Good is stronger than evil.  Love is stronger than hate.  Truth is stronger than lies.  The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and himself becomes God’s pure light.  But this applies not only to him, not only to the darkness of those days.  With the resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew.  He draws all of us after him into the new light of the resurrection and he conquers all darkness.  He is God’s new day, new for all of us.

Homily, Easter Vigil 2012

Reflection – The battle between light and darkness is a cosmic one that occurs in all of our souls. In all of us there is a capacity and indeed a desire for truth, encounter, freedom, gift, goodness, and love. In each of us, alas, there is a capacity and a disordered desire to hide, to snatch, to steal, to lie, to deny, to isolate. Every human life bears the marks of this battle; every human life is shaped by the choices we and those around us make to live in light or in darkness.

Darkness and light—running through the heart and the life of each human person. It is no great wonder that so many of the most ancient philosophical/religious systems of thought we know of were highly dualistic, positing two these equal or quasi-equal forces contending for supremacy in the world. It is a most logical and even empirical theory to explain what we are all living.

The creation account explodes this dualism. ‘Let there be light’, and there is light, and light is good. God—the one truly cosmic power—is the maker of light, and so reality is entirely ordered towards light, goodness, truth, relationship, and love. And God in Christ plunges the Uncreated Light of the Godhead into the heart of darkness. ‘Let there be light’, and there is light shining at that very heart.

You know, I don’t often speak very personally on this blog (a little bit, but I’m not so much into spilling my guts, here or most anywhere!). But I would have to say very simply that I have faith in the Resurrection of Christ most deeply because over and over again in my life, in the darkest of dark hours, in times of great sadness or hopelessness or suffering (and yes, I have had them), there have been these… moments, you know? Hard to define, hard to describe, but all of the sudden Jesus shows up in the middle of it all, don’t ask me how.

And darkness flees. Or even if something of the suffering remains, it changes, dramatically, radically. Hopelessness flees. Despair despairs of me.

This has happened in my life more often than I could count. So here I am, a Christian, a Catholic priest even, by the strange grace of God. And I believe in the resurrection. I really do. ‘Let there be light’, and light has shone, alleluia. Such has been my experience.