It is Saturday, in the West the Octave of His Glorious Resurrection, so we continue to pray in the Roman Canon: …..celebrating this most sacred day…..and in the East this is Bright Saturday. This morning, there is a heavy spring snowstorm. The light reflecting off the new fallen snow makes is bright indeed, while our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka bear the burden of such danger all Holy Masses, including for Divine Mercy Sunday, have been canceled.
We experience the power of created light overcoming darkness because the moon and stars illumine the night. Human ingenuity over the millennia – from fire to oil lamps to gaslights to electric lights, along the streets, in homes, fractures the darkness.
All those: sun, moon, stars, human made sources of light, are as feeble and as translucent as a single drop of water.
The True Light, the Real Light, the Powerful Light, uncreated, always existing, always ‘is’: infinite of infinite, translucent, as solid as rock.
Light as we experience it is a result of something which still eludes physicists. The theory is light comes from created energy know on electromagnetic spectrum and photons, known also as light quantum. Man-made sources of light are as numerous as that radiating from a camp fire to electricity firing up a light bulb. Light, not having mass per se has no weight!
Only one Light, the real Light, is not composed of anything, has not, for want of a better expression an ‘external’ source, but simply IS, and is not as a ‘something’, but as SOMEONE, God, the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
Thus we pray in the Nicene Creed:…..God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. St. John in his Prologue, speaking of Jesus, affirms the truth that: What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. [Jn. 1:3-5]
In Genesis 1:3,4:….. God said: Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good. God then separated the light from the darkness.
It is critical we never forget we have been created to dwell in light, not darkness.
In hell there is no light.
Satan does not radiate light; he only brings darkness. Which is why St. John specifically notes, as Judas leaves the Last supper to do his dark deed: And it was night. [13.30] Satan cannot enlighten anyone. He only darkens.
Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” [v.12]
During the Exodus the chosen people were led, illumined, at night, by the pillar of fire. During the feast of the Tabernacles in the temple, huge candelabra were lit to remind the people of God as light, their, and yes our, light. During the time Simeon held Jesus, held Light Himself, in his arms, Simeon prophesied that Jesus would become a light to the entire world. [cf. Lk. 2:32].
Commenting that Jesus declared Himself, while in the ‘full glare’ of the burning candelabra, to be the light of the world, the Ven. Archbishop Sheen also notes that: He who was standing in the temple in which the lights were gradually dimming proclaimed Himself the Light of the World….He affirmed that He is the Glory and the Light of that Temple. He was declaring Himself more necessary for the life of souls than the light of the sun is for the life of our body. It was not His doctrine, nor His law, nor His commandments, nor His teaching, that constituted this light; it was His Person. [cf. Life of Christ, Fulton J. Sheen, pp.179/80; Image Books, 1990].
Essential to experiencing the life-giving power of Christ as Light is to follow Him, be His disciple.
It is a matter not only of ascent of our wills saying Jesus is our Light, but of the daily nitty-gritty of choosing, through living the Gospel with our lives without compromise, to walk only in the light of Christ, following in His footsteps.
Deviation from such following, stepping off the illumined path, is to choose to walk in darkness.
A most hazardous choice which can imperil our very souls, risking our plunging into the abyss of an eternity of dark fire.
So the Pharisees said to him, “You testify on Your own behalf, so Your testimony cannot be verified.” [v.13]
It is indeed pathetic that these men who claimed to be experts in the Scripture, certainly they knew the law about two witnesses, [cf. Deut. 17:6], deliberately, consistently close their hearts to everything in the Scriptures pointing to the Messiah, to Jesus Himself.
It is also the choice, right there in the presence of the Life-Giving Light Himself, to stay in the cold darkness of pride and hate.
What also leaps from this encounter is Christ’s patience with them, patience which flows from His merciful and loving Heart: Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I do testify on My own behalf, My testimony can be verified, because I know where I came from and where I am going. [v.14]
Just as the illuminating and comforting pillar of fire led the Chosen People through the desert, so the Hebrew Scriptures were an illumination about the promised Redeemer, which is precisely why Jesus can speak truth to the Pharisees that indeed His testimony can be verified.
A profound truth in Jesus’s assertion He knows where He came from and where He is going, is a type of ‘I am’ statement, for every time Jesus says ‘I am’ He is affirming His divinity.
Likely it shook the Pharisees to the very core, yet that core, i.e. their consciences, was engulfed in the clammy darkness of refusing not only light, but Light Himself.
But you do not know where I come from or where I am going. [14.cont.]
In the Roman Rite for the ordination of a deacon there is a point where the bishop hands the deacon a copy of the Holy Gospels and, as the ordinand and bishop both hold the book at the same time the bishop, among other words says: Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.
If the Pharisees truly believed what they read, taught only what they believed, and lived what they preached, Jesus would not have had to constantly challenge their lack of fidelity to the very faith and Scriptures they constantly asserted they knew better than anyone.
You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone. [v.15] Since St. John began this section with the reference of Jesus speaking ‘to them again’, it may well be that some of them would have known the truth that Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery. Perhaps they had been there, left and then come to the Temple.
And even if I should judge, My judgment is valid, because I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. [v.16]
Real judgement of human beings, in the reality of salvation, is of the Divine. Jesus asserts His judgement is valid because it is enacted in union with the Father. Each Person of the Holy Trinity is distinct, yet not, in the poverty of human language, ‘separate’, but mysteriously one as God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. This is the mystery of One God, Three Divine Persons. Every divine act is Trinitarian.
Again, the ‘I am’ is a statement of the other great mystery of faith: the Incarnation, that is the one person Jesus, within whom co-exist the two natures: the Divine and the human. Jesus here is urging His hearers to embrace the truth that as man, He does not judge, but as God He rightly does so. Also, Jesus is once again referencing the Law about witnesses: Even in your law it is written that the testimony of two men can be verified. I testify on My behalf and so does the Father who sent Me.” [vs. 17,18]
Once more our Most Gracious Lord, the patient one, the Teacher, is giving them the opportunity to step out of the darkness into the light.
© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph