At the great Easter Vigil we proclaimed that Christ is the Light of the World!
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
How we need His Light of Life in the current darkness and how grateful we can be for His Light infused in the inspirational guidance of the core message of TNRS. Without fear, we must also acknowledge the darkness is ever-deepening as danger looms on every horizon. Events such as the letter that was published last month in the Des Moines Register reverberate in sickening shock on earth and beyond the veil while, surely, the people of the Kingdom and the people of heaven shudder in sadness. Such events are all around us, albeit, with different circumstances, in different places. As reported here:
“Sixty-eight faith leaders who say they are Christian signed a letter of protest against a proposed Iowa law that would protect preborn children from abortion once their heartbeat is detectable… Mainline Protestant denominations led the letter in both numbers and prestige, with a female United Methodist bishop and priestesses from the Presbyterian Churches USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, American Baptist Churches USA, Reformed Church in America, Unity Church, Episcopal Church, and United Methodist Church signing the document.”
What response can we make but to fight for Truth and Goodness and to pray?
Come, O Light of the World! Lead Kindly Light, for we are, again, wandering in the desert. Some say lost at sea. For certain, too many are far from the home of being faithful to Your life-giving Covenant which You established with us. We need You, Pillar and Cloud. Step by blessed step, lead us; lead us on our way. Shine Your Light within each one at ASOH, Your Light so strong as to make of us Your beacon of hope. More, Jesus. More, please. Fill us with more and more of You, to proclaim Your Kingdom and Your Goodness with sure and certain faith, to tend to others in such a manner that our Love may reveal Your Love for all.
At TNRS, we often spoke of God’s whispers, the importance of listening and, then, honoring His guidance and prompts. In the last few months, I’ve been pursued with what I call, “thundering whispers,” the kind that come from many places and compel attention. These gentle yet firm thought-provokers have woven together around the theme of these lines from the Office of Readings, prayed each day in the Divine Office:
“Today, listen to the voice of the Lord: Do not grow stubborn as your fathers did in the wilderness, when at Meriba and Massah; they challenged me and provoked me, although they had seen all of my works.”
Each Lent, we contemplate, anew, the journey through the desert made by our ancestors in the faith. This year, I was nudged to consider more closely the whining of the Israelites as we read, again, from the books of Exodus and Numbers. Oh! How they complained while persisting in disobedience and disbelief, continuing to demand that God do things THEIR way, definitely infected with what my friends in AA call “stinkin’ thinkin’.” So unfortunate was this course of thinking and acting that our forebearers were found wanting and were left wandering that they might learn to rely totally on God. Ultimately, they needed to embrace the joy that Abba IS the Father of fathers and He IS Goodness and Love. In His Divine Providence, He will not always give us what we want, the way we want it, but He WILL meet our needs and ensure that our lives are fashioned to bring what is best for us.
As a modern day Israelite, I have been praying to be prepared for the worst of what is yet to come – not in fear, but in desire to serve well. Surely, Holy Spirit was answering these prayers, throughout Lent, by drawing attention to the importance of attitude and knowledge. The knowledge of who we are as descendants of Adam and Eve and Who God is as the Perfect Father from Whom all Goodness flows keeps us mindful of the fact that God isn’t the cause of this worldwide consternation and tumult among the nations. This, in turn, fosters an attitude of reverent gratefulness as we realize He DESERVES our confidence in His Plan, our full trust in Him, our effort to grow in faith, our belief in His words and promises, and our constant prayer of thanksgiving.
All of this is not to say we should not cry out to God in our anguish. About a third of the psalms are those of lamentation. I have noticed that such prayers often begin with acknowledging God’s Goodness to us, both throughout the generations and throughout our own lives. Then there is the pouring out of our pain in forthright expression of our hopes and needs. Usually, the psalmist closes with words of trust in God’s proclivity to save and vindicate as well as expressions of praise and thanksgiving to Him. This builds within us such a different attitude than that reflected in the words of bitterness, accusation and disobedience proclaimed in the desert during the original Exodus.
Feeling grateful for these gems born of Lenten pondering, I was pleased to find further reflection connected to acknowledging God’s Goodness in a brief piece by Fr. John R.P. Russell entitled, “Joseph & Seeing the Good in the Midst of Evil,” which you will find here. This Joseph of whom Father writes is the one famed for his coat of many colors. How rich is this exhortation to look for God’s Goodness in these times of prevalent evil that we may enter the very worst of the Storm with an attitude which reflects that we are God’s beloved children, for this is our true identity.
Excerpts from Joseph & Seeing Good in the Midst of Evil:
“Joseph sees the good in the midst of evil. Do we? Or, do we complain constantly about every little thing we suffer without ever stopping to give thanks and praise to God for the good with which we are also blessed?
This is not to diminish our sufferings. Our sufferings are real and sometimes unjust and it’s worthwhile to complain about them from time to time. We see this with Abraham – and the Psalms are full of complaint. But it’s not okay to neglect the other part of it… If we complain to God about every evil, we must also remember to thank him for every good.
Sometimes, we even blame God for our suffering. Things don’t go our way and we say to God, “I can’t believe this is how you treat your friends,” as if he was the one who visited evils upon us. Or, we look at all the evils in the world – the cruelty visited upon the innocent by war, murder, rape, abuse, and neglect; by poverty and ignorance; by natural disasters, earthquakes, fires, floods, and diseases – and we conclude that no good God could let this happen. By this reasoning, atheists and enemies of God conclude that either there is no God or that God is not good. One important thing to remember is that God is not the author of any of these evils. God did not make death (Wis 1:13). It is our sin that brings all these things into the world. It is my sin. We are to blame and not God, for every evil.
Even so, we might object, “Doesn’t God have the power to prevent these evil consequences of our sin?” Yes, he does. He brings good out of every evil he permits, but he isn’t beholden to any evil… Yet God alone gives a peace which surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7)…
What’s perhaps more remarkable is the seeming preponderance of people who blame God for every evil while neglecting to credit him for every good. We experience a great deal of good in our lives and in creation…
If you cannot see the good, it’s not because it isn’t there, but simply because you lack the eyes to see – the eyes of faith… In the same way, there is good, even if we can’t always see it. It is there and it sustains us in being. If you cannot see it now, it doesn’t mean that you will never see it again. Have hope and pray for the gift of faith. The Lord loves you and in his own time and by his own means, he will answer that prayer and give you that gift.
Joseph sees the good. The Lord has clearly given him the gift of faith, I think, and he was not a man unfamiliar with suffering and evil… Some of us know the sting of false accusation. When you do, remember that you are in the good company of Joseph and draw inspiration from his example.
Despite suffering all of this as a result of their crime, Joseph says to his brothers, “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life” (45:5)… If he was angry, I would not fault him. Would you? Yet, he sees the good so clearly, that the evil he has suffered drowns in the good… he concludes that it was not his brothers who sent him to Egypt, but God (45:8). This is a stunning faith and ability to see the good…
Like Joseph, let us not focus so much on recovering our ease and comfort when we find ourselves in trouble and distress that we forget to always seek and offer thanks to the Lord for everything that is good.”