No comments yet

Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year B

Love is not a matter of words, but of deeds. Deeds of love make words of love have sense. The same is true of faith. God-talk is all very well but doing deeds which show I have faith in God is what counts. Talking about morality is also fine but doing what is right is what makes me a moral person.
But who is to say what love is so that we can know what deeds of love are? Who is to say what faith is so that we can act on it? Who is to say what is moral or immoral so that we know what it means to do what is right? In other words, who establishes the truth of love, faith and morality?
Christ is the Truth. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, he asserts plainly. As the Truth, he is also the Light. He sheds Light on our minds so that we may know what true love, faith and morality are. The Fall of Adam and Eve darkened the human mind because the rejection of God’s Word brought with it automatically the loss of God’s Light. Original sin caused the loss of the truth about love, faith and morality. It also caused death to become part of the human lot.
God wanted none of this, and so he determined to reverse it. The Gospel says, “Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.” Christ, then, is the “pivot point” of the reversal of our fallen state. His Light shines out for us. His death destroyed our death. He brought back into the world true love by giving his life for humanity. He restored the vision of the truth to our minds so that we would know how to act morally again.
But all of this is accessible only to the person who believes in Him. Again, belief is not primarily about talk. Faith is not primarily the giving of intellectual assent to the Creed or the teaching of Christ and the Church. Faith is primarily a deed, the deed of trusting in, and entrusting ourselves to, the person of Jesus Christ. This kind of faith makes us one with Him. And only when we are one with Him can we receive all the gifts of His grace. I will never accept Christ’s truth about love if I don’t believe in Him; nor will I ever know His love and what it means to act morally in ways pleasing to Him if I have not entrusted myself to Him in faith.
And not everyone has faith or wants faith. Some people simply have never been in the position to know Christ; some have not received the gift of faith. But insofar as they live good lives to the best of their ability, Christ will not forget them. In ways known only to Himself, He will provide them with the grace to attain salvation. There are others who may have heard all about Christ, and gone through the whole Catholic upbringing, but who for some reason never knew faith as the entrusting of themselves to the person of Christ. We cannot know what the reason for that is. What we can say is that, provided they did not positively choose to abandon the One whom they had first accepted to be their Lord; provided they did not make a choice deliberately to reject Christ and prefer themselves or some worldly alternative: then living a good life to the best of their ability will ensure that they, too, are not separated from the love of Christ.
The more tragic circumstance is that of those who knowingly and deliberately reject faith, that is, who do not want Christ. We can hear the poignancy and sadness in the words of Jesus himself concerning such people: “No one who believes in me will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already. On these grounds is sentence pronounced: that though the light has come into the world, men have shown they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. And indeed, everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, for fear his actions should be exposed.”
To refuse the Light is to refuse the Truth which is to refuse Christ. The Truth is refused not only when it is openly rejected, but also when it is ignored or when attempts are made to distort it to suit personal, social or cultural preferences. These are attempts to dim the light, to draw it into the service of darkness. To do this is to reject Christ, to prefer darkness.
That is why it is imperative for the salvation of our own souls and for that of the world that the Church as a body, and each of us as its members, must never compromise when it comes to the Truth of Christ. That can certainly be a tough call; and the truth must always go hand in hand with mercy and compassion. But it is neither merciful nor compassionate to dim the light, to weaken the truth, because in the end it is only the Truth which can set us free from the darkness and heal all our wounds. Because the Truth is Christ and He is our healing, our holiness, our love, our compassion and our God.
Lent is an important time to ask ourselves where we stand in terms of our personal commitment to Christ the Truth. Many martyrs gave their lives for the Truth. We can certainly try and live our lives for the Truth and in the Truth. The darkness uses subtle tactics to wean us off the Truth, to convince us that our own opinions or human thought systems are just as important as the Truth and possibly justify, nay demand, overruling it. We can kid ourselves on that our choices don’t affect the Truth, as if the sins of humanity did not cause the passion and death of Christ. We are all weak and sinful, of course, and living up to the demands of Christ can be a tall order. But that is why we can bring our failures to the Truth of His mercy in the confessional or, if we are talking of venial sin, for forgiveness in the reception of the Eucharist. But without the Truth, there would be no sin, only mayhem. Without the Truth there would be no mercy, only mutual hostility or indulgence. Without the Truth there would be no love, but only emotion and affection.
With the Truth there is Light, Life, Love, Mercy, Grace, Justice and Peace. Lord, bathe us in the Light of your Truth, empower us in Your mercy to live it in love, free us from error and from all ills in its power and let it be the lamp for our steps until we yield our souls to You.