The Verdict

Cristo Pantocrátor of St. Catherine’s Monastery Sinai

Every Christian has these words indelibly etched into their minds, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16) As Catholics the world over celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity this Sunday we remember that the giving of the son was God giving himself for our sakes. Today I sat in prayer reflecting on these words. Then I read farther. Why was the son sent into the world? Not to condemn humanity but because humanity has condemned itself. “This is the verdict,” St. John writes, “that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light.” (Jn 3:19)

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.” As Lewis says, “in the end” there is the hell of eternal separation from the source of all light but there are also the hells of our present. The hell of rage and condemnation. The hell of cynicism. The hell of self-determination. 

There is a door to every home and to every dwelling of the soul a gateway. Fear is the gateway to hell. Fear tells us that we have no choice in the matter. You do not choose me, it whispers, I am a warning and a response to evil. Fear is the devil’s helpmate, he assures that every righteous anger will turn to outrage and hatred. When we give in to fear then every virtuous action we attempt may be stifled. If our lives are meant to be a flame then fear is the snuffer that turns all hope to so much blowing smoke.

Over the past decades we have learned to live in fear of one another. For the most part we do not really know the people we fear but still we hate them. Well, if we call ourselves Christian, such hatred is simply not an option. Jesus did not mince words, “Love your enemies,” he said, “and pray for those who persecute you.” (Mt 5:44) Prayer is the great weapon against the persecutor, it call out and shines light on their injustice. When the dying man cries out, “Father forgive them,” how starkly injustice appears.

When the peacemakers are cut down by bullets as they raise their voices to heaven, there can be no doubt of who stands in righteousness. We know that light has come into the world, to be in that light is to reflect its love and peace to the world. Today, when we step out our doors, let us remember the word of St. Paul: “It is the hour to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Rom. 13:11-12)

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