Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Isaiah 49:8-15 / John 8:12-20

How well can we see the sun? With our naked eyes, not very well at all. However, we would not for that reason want to call the sun obscure, much less invisible. Things which are hard to make out because of their obscurity, because they are cloaked in darkness, can be made better known, because better seen, by bringing more light form elsewhere. By the clarity of these other things, what is hidden can be made manifest, saying to them that are in darkness: Show yourselves. Not so with the sun. There is no other light by which the sun can be made easier for us to see. This is because the sun is not obscure, but rather superabundant in visibility, more than our eyes can bear. We can, to be sure, apply filters to lenses or use special photography, but the result will be that we do not really see the sun as it is, but rather judge it on our own terms, on the terms of the limits of the human eye. Otherwise, we can know the brilliance of the sun by the ease with which we can see other things by its light.

This same problem faces the Jews in John's Gospel. They are offended that Jesus seems to have only his own word to bear testimony to the truth of who and what he claims to be. They demand some other witness by whose words the obscurity of Jesus' identity might be better known — The Pharisees therefore said to Him: Thou givest testimony of Thyself: Thy testimony is not true. However, the fulness of who Jesus is remains hidden from them not because his words or his identity are obscure, but rather because he is the superabundant source of all clarity: I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life. There is no other human witness, no earthly source of light or insight by which Jesus might be better known, since he himself is the very source and goal of every created light, of the penetrating power of any created intellect, of the illuminating grace of any divine revelation. We cannot see him better by means of anything other than the Father who sent him into the world: My judgment is true, because I am not alone: but I and the Father that sent Me. The Pharisees, on the other hand, insist on seeing Jesus, and so they apply the filters to their eyes that let him be seen, draw the veil across their faces to obscure to themselves the fulness of his truth. In so doing, they judge according to the flesh, and as a result, neither Jesus do they know, nor his Father.

The world is craving the food, gasping in thirst for the water that only the Lord Jesus can satisfy, and in his restoration of the human race by his death on the Cross, he has given us, his Church, to be a covenant of the people, that we might raise up the earth and possess the inheritances that were destroyed: that we might say to them that are bound: Come forth: and to them that are in darkness: Show yourselves. We are to be the means by which the hungry are fed, the thirsty have drink, and those in the open are shaded from the heat of the sun. Our response, or following Jesus, the light of the world, while not the light itself and for that reason unable to give any greater justification for the truth of Jesus than he does of himself, is all the same to be for others the means by which they can know God's brilliance through the clarity of our own lives. It is the extent to which our lives are marked by his glory that the world can know the very source of illumination, our Lord Jesus Christ.

O God, who wouldst rather show pity than anger to those who hope in Thee: may we lament as we should the evil we have done, and merit the grace of Thy consolation.

No comments: