We need to understand the darkness growing around us and defeat it. God has provided us with a way by living a similar moment of darkness in the person of the Son. As the ministry of Jesus on earth was coming to an end, the enemy was getting ready for the final attack. You may remember the words we read in the last post: “darkness did not comprehend it”, the same phrase “ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν” is translated also as “darkness did not overcome it.” The original Greek seems to work like Italian or Spanish where “comprehend” and “surround” (or overcome) are sometimes represented by the same verb. The forces of darkness did not comprehend the Incarnation. In fact, no one fully comprehended the Incarnation, not even the disciples of Jesus. For Peter to recognize that Jesus was the Son of God necessitated the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Here is where the divine idea of light comes into play.
One can see the life of Jesus as a “day” where Jesus is the “sun” that slowly rises illuminating all things. We have heard many times the title “Morning Star” applied to Mary, Our Blessed Mother. Well, Venus the morning star appears above the horizon when it is still dark, reflecting the light of the Sun still invisible to our eyes and yet ascending inexorably. In the darkest moment of the night, the morning star rises reflecting the light of the Sun, announcing the arrival of a new day.
The forces of darkness could understand that much but they could not fully comprehend who Jesus was. The divinity of Christ was veiled to them although they could feel his power. You will immediately comprehend the fact that the devil needed to infiltrate the intimate circle of Jesus. He managed to do that completely with the Iscariot and through fear, he was able to send the disciples into hiding except for a few women, Mary the Mother of Jesus and John the Beloved. Judas had a mission and it was an evil mission:
“The Lord hath made all things for himself: the wicked also for the evil day.” (Proverbs 16:4)
Even to the last minute, Jesus tried to move the heart of Judas Iscariot to repent by giving him a morsel of food. (John 13:27) In those days that was understood as a tender gesture of friendship, more so at the time of the Paschal Feast, a moment of communion for all Israel. But as the Iscariot received the morsel of food, Satan recoiled within him. After Jesus freed him to do whatever he had decided in his heart, Judas “went into the darkness outside” like a stone thrown at night into the depths of the sea.
Here is where we must stop and reflect. The actions of both the devil and his instrument (Judas Iscariot) were meant to destroy Jesus but in reality they were destroying themselves. Judas Iscariot knew he was lost soon enough and so did the devil but the devil had more time because he had to wait until the end times to be chained and subdued by the power of God.
“And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name whom Thou has given me; that they may be one, as we also are. While I was with them, I kept them in Thy name. Those whom thou gave me have I kept; and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the scripture may be fulfilled.” (John 17:11-12 DOUAY-RHEIMS)
Freedom and Light
The almost incomprehensible declaration of Jesus comes after Judas plunges into the night:
“When he therefore was gone out, Jesus said: ‘Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God also will glorify him in himself; and immediately will he glorify him.'” (John 13:31-32)
Glory and light are always very close but “glory” is not mere light in this case. Just like it happened the night of Jesus’ arrival in this world, the glory of God will be manifested to men. “Those who believed beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” (John 1:9-14) Jesus was going to do something that would serve as a light, as an example for his disciples to follow. He was doing to enter into his Passion and illuminate history with a deed the “darkness could not comprehend” even to this day. But the same deed was going to be a glorious inspiration to those following him: since that day in Calvary the Cross allows us to walk in Christ’s steps without “stumbling” like the sons of darkness do.
Darkness could not comprehend the most crucial age in history. Jesus is born away from Jerusalem, in Bethlehem located six miles outside the city walls. His ministry on Earth ends in Calvary, also outside the city walls. Truly, he came to his own and his own did not receive them. Both the manger in Bethlehem and the Cross at Calvary are proof of the stubborn blindness of the wicked that dare to reject the light, they “have sinned against the light” (to borrow John Henry Newman’s phrase in his Apologia Pro Vita Sua.)
“And he [God] said: Go, and thou shalt say to this people: Hearing, hear, and understand not: and see the vision, and know it not. Blind the heart of this people, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes: lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” (Isaiah 6:9-10 DOUAY RHEIMS)
The conversion and healing effected by God when he finds our hearts surrendering to his will, are a divine act of liberation. Saint Augustine says that “A man has as many masters as he has vices.” Freedom is paradoxically the freedom to enslave oneself. It does not take much thinking to realize that the opposite is also true: a man who has mastery of himself is a free man. It takes repentance and the healing power of God to achieve that mastery. It takes true fear of offending our Divine Master to surrender in repentance to him.
Meditating on this subject this Year of the Lord 2021, one can see how many countries, most notably the American Republic, have gradually lost their freedom as they allowed themselves to be enslaved by many sinful practices, making some true abominations into “law” — or rather something they call “law” while it is in reality lawlessness.
The infiltration of the group of Apostles of Christ must have seemed to the devil as a clever way to defeat the forces of light. In reality, the wicked one was being surrounded and led into his own demise. Light is freedom to walk anywhere we want with a clear conscience, holding the hand of God, believing in his guidance, without fear. True freedom is the calm to trust in the God that made us and the inner conviction that Our Maker wants the best for us.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. (Psalm 22: 1-6 NRSVACE)
Reveal the Father – Reveal Freedom
Darkness cannot defeat light in frontal combat, it must resort to stealth tactics: infiltration, bribery, extortion, fear. Judas Iscariot allowed darkness to dwell in him and we see the results. In the same manner, at a similar moment in history, entire countries, entire human institutions are allowing themselves to become slaves to darkness. There is a direct correlation between darkness and slavery (i.e. to sin); light and freedom. In the light of God, slavery is impossible. In the darkness of evil, freedom is impossible. Holiness is true freedom.
That is the mission of Christ: to reveal the Father and liberate mankind. It is impossible for God the Father to be the subject of another being. That simple, self-evident truth also reveals that no one is more free than God Himself. Therefore, those who seek holiness in their station in life, are pursuing perfect freedom.
When the People of God rejected Christ (their liberator, their shepherd and protector) they lost their freedom. The invitation was there for them all the time: “Repent and believe in the Good News!” Well, the invitation is still standing. In fact, we have accepted that invitation before and we have enjoyed the smiles of Heaven and the sweet fruits of freedom as we humbly turned our lives over to Our Creator. Why not return to Him now? Why not discard the many false idols before something worse happens to us? That is the advice Jesus gives to the man by the pool of Bethesda:
“Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.’” (John 5:14)
We have to receive Jesus in our life within the walls of our heart, let him in without reservations, ask him to make us his own.
“He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God . . .” (John 1:11)
If we are children of God we cannot lose our freedom, the children of a free King are always free. But to receive that glorious gift we must receive him. It is that easy. If we truly receive them no one will ever make us slaves. By faith in the Son of God we have the power to be children of God. We are made sons in the Son, everything else is of little value in comparison.
Let us return to Him while there is still time.
“I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my Country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” (George Washington — Excerpted from his Inaugural Address Before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, April 30, 1789.)