Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jesus and the World

I could just say they didn't get along but there is more to it than that.

Every Sunday, after a Tridentine Mass has ended, there is one more thing to be done - the reading of St. John's Gospel, chapter 1, verses 1-14 (RSV).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ...He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.

And then Jesus told His disciples something that I think should be meditated upon every day of a Christian's life:

"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. - John 15: 18-21 (RSV)

Today is Holy Saturday. It is a time to reflect upon the death of our Lord Jesus Christ and mourn the world's rejection of Him. I believe that now, more than ever, we need to examine Jesus' relationship with the world. It was a rocky one, to be sure. On one hand, you have the Son of God, who was with His Father from the foundations of the world, offering forgiveness for the sin of mankind. On the other hand, you have the world, digging in with its heels, either denying that Jesus Christ was the Son of God or they had no need of forgiveness.

Often, those riddled with sin feel they have no need to repent. In their estimation, they believe they've done nothing wrong. But it doesn't occur to them that their logic may be flawed; that in essence, their sin is blinding them to their need for salvation. That is why it is so important for us to pray for those who are stubborn in their refusal to surrender all to Jesus Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can give such sight and allow a man or woman to truly see their need for a Savior.

This brings me back to the issue of Tony Blair. After I wrote my last entry, I was caught up with thoughts of "the world." How often does the Church of Jesus Christ try to "be relevant" to the world. My question is: Why? Why placate a dying entity? Why try to acquiesce to their demands that we "rethink our attitudes" or "evolve in concept?" My unsanctified side says: Go pound sand. But my more sanctified side prays, be merciful to them, Oh Lord. I will freely admit that I often vacillate between anger at a world who wants to be god and compassion for a world that is lost.

The bottom line is that Christians need to understand this dichotomy, for in doing so, we will either succeed in being the light to the world that God desires, or we will fail. I am only too aware of those who hate God, who are just waiting for a Christian to lash out in anger. I know this is not the way of Christ. And especially today, I think about our Blessed Mother Mary, who grieved in the deepest part of her soul the death of her Son. Was there any "lashing out" from her? She would have been justified to express her outrage, but we see none of that in Scripture. Instead, we see her mourning, but not condemning those who so unjustly condemned her Son. I am taking that as a response worth emulating.

Those who call themselves Christians yet seek to please the world are trying to serve two masters. First, there will always be an enmity between the world and Christ. Those who follow Christ must realize that the moment they embraced Him was the moment they were to release the world. Secondly, our relationship with the world is to be a witnessing one, as a lover who is entreating his wayward wife to return to the love he has for her. The father did not chase after the Prodigal Son but waited in hope for the day his son would return. The father did not search for his son, and finding him among pigs say, "Son, this is really an okay place for you to be. Here, let me join you."

We know the story. The son was embarrassed by his station in life - going from the son of a wealthy man to now eating with pigs. He repented to his father and his father gave him everything in return.

The problem with many Christians is they never understood that separation, the cutting of the bond to a dying world. And so they keep trying to please it, to "be relevant" in order to bring the truth to them.

But Jesus Christ is not one to conform to the world. It is interesting to me that when Truth is presented uncompromisingly, without apology - the world has a much clearer choice to make. And the disciples who are born from such a choice, are those we call saints.

I know I want to become a saint. It is God's purpose for us all. Let us pray that God gives us the courage to stand for the truth, and to continue to be a witness that God loved the world so much, that He gave His only Son for them. Let us realize that we will never be friends with the world, nor will the world ever love us - for they did not love the Light. Tonight, during The Service of Light, let us remember that He shines brightly in the darkness and the darkness will never overcome Him.

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