“Now is the time of judgment on this world, now the ruler of this world will be driven out” (John 12:31) Judgment. To the ears of a post-modern, devotee of relativism and absolute individualism, this word smacks of absolutism and unjust authority. To the undisciplined ego, this word causes anger, cynicism, and rebellion. Does this not sound like the mindset of “the ruler of this world?”
But to the mind of a Christian, this word simply reveals a truth. The Christian mind, suffused with the gift of faith, accepts the fact that God, He who made all things good, true, and beautiful, is the very essence of goodness and righteousness. In faith, we know that God is the very Ground of Being, the Source of all that is good. We know that his judgment is perfectly just. And because he is perfect goodness, he can do no evil. We believe in his perfect love for us. We know and believe in his perfect fidelity and his perfect mercy toward those who have seen that he is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life. We know that choosing to do good is the only just action worthy of those whom he made in his own image and likeness.
The good Christian knows that he or she is a sinner in need of God’s great mercy; knows that he or she is weak and in need of God’s grace to struggle against the challenges and temptations of the “ruler of this world.” We know that, since The Fall, we have been slaves to both sin and death. These things are the way of the ruler of this world, Satan. But we also know that God’s love and forgiveness for us was made manifest in Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In his life, suffering, death, and resurrection we have been freed from the bitter rule of the ruler of this world. Satan has been defeated by Christ Jesus, yet, he foolishly refuses to accept that fact, and continues his rebellion, attempting to take us away from God.
This is the mystery of evil that we all face. It is real, and its legacy for us is suffering. We suffer because of our own cooperation with sin, and because of the cooperation of others. The leaders of this world, whether political rulers, or those unruly forces that seem to control our own day-to-day behaviors at times, in the end, have no power over us but that which we give to them by our assent. Without our cooperation the ruler of the world has no power at all. Here we confront the great truth too. God has all the power. Though sin can cause us much suffering and, yes, even death, those who believe in Jesus Christ, can face the challenges knowing that God’s mercy and forgiveness are there to be swiftly given whenever we turn back to him. We know in faith that, if death could not prevail over Jesus, then no other opposition to his goodness can hope to truly succeed. It is in humbly giving our whole selves over to God, in both faith and action, that we find not only life, but life in abundance, not only freedom, but the freedom worthy of a child of God. That is, the freedom to choose more and more habitually to do the good we have come to know in Jesus, to say “YES!” to God and “NO!” to “the ruler of this world.” This is evidence that faith and reason go hand in hand.
Lord, increase our faith. Strengthen us in our battles with the ruler of this world. Give us the graces we need to be true soldiers for Christ against the unruly forces of this world that try to tempt us aways from you. Let us do battle with the armor of faith, and the sword of humility, knowing that you have prevailed over sin and death, once and for all, forever. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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