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Pastor's Letter 20210314 - 14 March 2021 - Accepting or Rejecting the Light


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March 14th, 2021  

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A Message from Father †Michael

Today’s Theme:   “Accepting or Rejecting The Light”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

Our First Reading, today, shows how God remained faithful to His people, in spite of their infidelities (2 Chronicles 36:14-23.) Because of their sins, God allowed His people to be exiled to Babylon.  His mercy is seen in their homecoming.

The Second Reading stresses the enormity of the love God has shown us in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-10.)  Clearly, we owe our salvation to the love and mercy of God, not to our own efforts.  

Our Gospel selection exhibits God’s love and mercy in the fact that He sent His Son to save us (John 3:14-21.)  Jesus came into our world as a light.  Sadly, some preferred dark ness to the Light.  Judgment is not passed by God; people judge themselves by their response to the Light.  

God’s Love for the World

Among the more famous Scripture verses, “John 3:16” has broad familiarity, and is a wonderful summary of “The Good News.”  We should note that it was God Who first took the initiative to provide for our salvation.  Some might believe God had to first be pacified before He would forgive mankind.  They picture God as stern, angry and unforgiving.  Jesus, on the other hand, is presented as being kind, gentle and forgiving—His “righteous anger” at the Temple money changers notwithstanding (ref. last Sunday’s Gospel selection: John 2:13-25.) By His death, Jesus “changed God’s attitude” toward us, one might say.  But today’s Gospel makes it clear that it was God Who sent His Son to us, taking the “first step.”  

God chose the approach of love, not power.  God acts not for His own sake but for ours.  God is not an absolute monarch, Who is not happy unless His creatures are reduced to abject obedience.  Rather, God is the Father, Who is not happy until all His wandering children have come home.

We also understand the all-inclusive nature of God’s love—not directed at a single nation, or people, nor only for those people who are “good.”  It is directed at all nations, to the children of light and to the children of darkness. “If God’s approach is so loving,” one might counter, “how can it include judgment and condemnation?”  Or, taken further, “How can condemnation be reconciled with love?”

Condemnation does not follow from God’s action but from people’s responses.  God condemns no one.  People condemn themselves by adopting a negative attitude.  God sent us a Light.  If people get lost, it is because they haven’t accepted the Light. The fault is not God’s but ours.

It’s like someone who disparages a great masterpiece of art.  Such a reaction to an exalted work speaks only to one’s unenlightened reaction.  The works of art are not on trial, but the viewer!  In the same way, those who prefer darkness to light have condemned themselves.  

Evil people hate the light because it is self-revelatory.  They hate goodness, because it reveals their inner evil.  They hate industry, because it reveals their laziness. Such people will destroy goodness, love and light in order to avoid the pain of self-discovery.  One who rejects light rebuffs God’s offer of love.

Attitude to the Light

The coming of the Light ought to be good news for those living in darkness.  However, this is not the case.  As an example, consider The Simon Community, of Scotland, which began its work in 1963, establishing shelters for the homeless. (Ref. Wikipedia) Taking its name from Simon of Cyrene, founder Anton Wallich-Clifford patterned the organization after the work of Catholic Worker Movement’s Dorothea Day, in the United States.  Each night, volunteers bring soup and sandwiches to those who, for one reason or another, do not want to come to the shelters.  Looking for them on the streets and in derelict buildings, they go about their mission carrying flashlights, because many times, they encounter down-and-outs in dark places.  

Most of their encounters result in friendly acceptance, but some refuse to have anything to do with them.  Workers can determine immediately which group they encounter by their reaction to their lights.  Some welcome it, while others fear it.  One could say that the light “judges them,” in the sense that it shows the darkness in their lives—from alcoholism, misery, hopelessness and crime.  But it always comes to brighten their lives and comfort them.  

That’s how it was with the coming of Christ’s light.  He did not come to judge people, but to save the them—bearing the light of truth, goodness and salvation from their sins.  Those who rejected His light do so because it exposes the evil in their lives.

All of us have some darkness within us.  But there is abundant goodness, too.  We are attracted to the Light and we should trust this goodness and try to follow it.

Our country today is replete with many “dark voices,” which attempt to convince us that our great Republic has failed in its mission to bring opportunity and justice to everyone.  Social Media virtually screams of the systemic blight that has destroyed our society, while unfairly diminishing the importance of all those who believe in its founding principles.  

In contrast, countless millions of immigrants from foreign lands have arrived on our shores to find burgeoning opportunities for success, and none of the barbaric oppression from which they have fled in their native homelands.  We must not yield our confidence to those who would preach the need for “fundamental” changes in our country, when it is only the “fringes” that are affected, and only in isolated regions.  No one can deny the manner in which neighbors will step up to lend assistance in times of crisis.  Countless examples have been cited of people lending helping hands to those affected by the tragedies of 9/11, and of people displaced by natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina.  

The multitudinous small businesses that have found acceptance in our country, operated by the Hmong people of Viet Nam, are just one of many such success stories that abound in our midst.  

To those who would tear down the fabric of our nation and the many who would idly stand by while it is done, I offer this understanding:  The greatest danger facing us is that we might settle for a kind of “twilight” existence—never declaring our allegiance for the Light of Christ.  We never totally “opt” for the “dark,” but we do “dabble” in it, by accepting the callous rhetoric about our nation’s character.  As a result, we may become “mediocre” persons—neither great saints, nor great sinners—people incapable of great cowardice nor great courage.  While those who are in darkness may one day see the Light, and welcome it, those “twilighters” may never see the glory of the Light.  

Those of us who firmly follow Christ’s light—fully and generously offering it to others—will find our lives illuminated by His grace, peace, love and freedom.  From this stance, we will have the fortitude to withstand the onslaughts of the naysayers who would denigrate our faith in Jesus, and in the grand experiment that has been our United States.  

May God Richly Bless You!

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

~~Martin Luther King, Jr.~~   

NOTE:  Technical difficulties today prevented a live stream of the Holy Mass.

God So Loved the World-Glad.docx

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