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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wednesday (May 18) Gospel: whoever believes

Scripture: John 12:44-50

44 And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And he who sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me."

Reflection

What kind of darkness does Jesus warn us to avoid? It is the darkness of unbelief and rejection – not only of the Son who came into the world to save it – but rejection of the Father who offers us healing and reconciliation through his Son, Jesus Christ.

In Jesus’ last public discourse before his death and resurrection (according to John’s Gospel), Jesus speaks of himself as the light of the world. In the scriptures light is associated with God's truth and life.

Psalm 27 exclaims, The Lord is my light and my salvation. Just as natural light exposes the darkness and reveals what is hidden, so God's word enables those with eyes of faith to perceive the hidden truths of God's kingdom. Our universe could not exist without light – and no living thing could be sustained without it.

Just as natural light produces warmth and energy – enabling seed to sprout and living things to grow – in like manner, God's light and truth enables us to grow in the life he offers us. Jesus' words produce life – the very life of God – within those who receive it with faith.

To see Jesus is to see God. To hear his words is to hear the voice of God. He is the very light of God that has power to overcome the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief. God's light and truth brings healing, pardon, and transformation.

This light is not only for the chosen people of Israel, but for the whole world as well. Jesus warns that if we refuse his word or take it lightly, we choose to remain in spiritual darkness.

Jesus made it clear that he did not come to condemn us, but rather to bring abundant life and freedom from the oppression of sin, Satan, and a world opposed to God's way of life. We condemn ourselves when we reject God's word of truth, life, and wisdom.

It is one thing to live in ignorance due to lack of knowledge and understanding, but another thing to disdain the very source of truth who is Christ Jesus, the Word of God sent from the Father. Jesus says that his word – which comes from the Father and produces eternal life in us – will be our judge.

Do you believe that God's word has power to set you free from sin and ignorance and to transform your life in his way of holiness?

Saint Augustine of Hippo (5th century) summed up our need for God's help in the following prayer: God our Father, we find it difficult to come to you, because our knowledge of you is imperfect.

In our ignorance we have imagined you to be our enemy; we have wrongly thought that you take pleasure in punishing our sins; and we have foolishly conceived you to be a tyrant over human life. But since Jesus came among us, he has shown that you are loving, and that our resentment against you was groundless.

God does not leave us in spiritual darkness – in our ignorance and unbelief. He gives light, wisdom, and grace to all who seek him and hunger for his word.

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he helps us to grow daily in faith, knowledge, and understanding of his word.

Do you want to know more of God and his transforming love?

Look to Jesus, the Light of God, and in his truth you will find joy, freedom, and wholeness of mind, body and soul.

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