These Two Truths Are The Heart Of The Gospel.
There are two truths in today’s passage; one dark and one full of heavenly light. It is true, of course, that the world is full of troubles. We know it both personally, societally, and globally. We need not look far to see, or to feel troubles of countless kinds. But something new has happened. In Jesus, a light came into the world that has conquered the darkness. In him there is no darkness, only the eternal, conquering, light of truth.
Chapter 16 of John’s Gospel is a long reflection on the reality that we all live in together. Jesus addresses his disciples with the dark and painful truth of the real world, but also with the brilliant light and assurance of infinite hope. Jesus is leading us all to see that sin, the real source of suffering in the world, is and was the result of a failure to believe in God, in his love, and in his promise of salvation. Jesus is that love and that salvation in the flesh. Jesus is that light that has conquered the darkness of sin and death. It is Jesus, the savior of the world, who said these things to the disciples. And it is Jesus who speaks this truth to us today. The world, in the darkness of its arrogance, would find Jesus guilty and nail him to a cross. Jesus bore the full weight of the world’s darkness in his flesh on that cross for the sake of love. And, thanks be to God, with the resurrection, the infinite light of God’s fidelity, love and mercy, swept away that darkness—-forever.
Jesus tells the truth to the disciples and to us. “Amen, amen I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” (verse 20) He uses the metaphor of a woman in labor who is, “is in anguish because her hour has come,” but who forgets her pain when the child is born, for she has brought a new child into the world. (verse 21) And he reminds us that, though we will know anguish in the world, if we keep the faith in the midst of the world’s trials and tribulations, we will come to realize the inexpressible joy of his promise. We will see him again in the face in the forever-bright-world of his heavenly kingdom.
This is our faith. And our faith is rooted in our experiences of Jesus. As Christians we know that He has conquered death and sin. We know this because, as he promised, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth has come to us, to teach us all that is right and good. We received God’s Holy Spirit at our baptisms, and he dwells within the temples of our bodies even now. He knows our prayers before they even reach our lips and when we are at a loss, it is he who groans our inexpressible prayers for us. Yes, the truth remains that the world is still dark with sin, suffering, and death, but we can, indeed, “take heart!” For the greater truth is that Jesus has “overcome the world.”
Jesus, we are in anguish. We know in ourselves the sting of sin, of suffering and of death only too well. But because of the gift of your Holy Spirit, we take courage and ask you for the graces we need to live our lives in ways that bring your light of faith, hope, love, and joy into the darkness of this needy world. Help us always to keep our hearts, our minds, and our eyes fixed only on the brilliant light of your eternal love and mercy. It is in your name, Jesus, that we pray these things. Amen!
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