May 20, 2020
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Truth and Light
Christ's Entry into Jerusalem by Hippolyte Flandrin c. 1842

Truth and Light

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. (Isaiah 8:23-9:3)

When will this miracle of light happen again and illumine our world?

If we refuse to be impressed by some of the advancements of science and technology; if we decline to be dazzled by the media, by all the vacuous promises of politicians and we dare to scratch below their glamorous surface, we would notice a great deal of darkness. It takes the form of misinformation, of giving a convenient spin to events, of blatant lying, of shameless distortion of truth, of mixing of truth with half-truths, of cover-ups and similar forms of deceit.

The obvious areas of darkness are the world of politics and the imposition of crazy ideologies that defy common sense and disregard basic decency, like same sex “marriage,” gender fluidity and denial of the humanness of babies in the womb. Another area of darkness is the world of sports in which athletes and other people associated with sports are paid huge sums of money; the lure of easy success inflates egos and corruption undermines fairness and just competiveness. Hollywood is another world where darkness takes many forms including selective censorship and the giving of awards is tainted by forced adherence to certain dogmas.  

The list of dark worlds is pretty long. 

Let me single out the one that, alas, has the thickest darkness: the media. Most currents of the media are so polarized and slanted that they ceased to pretend to offer impartial reports on facts and events. The result is that the credibility of the media has reached its lowest level, ever. Their darkness exposes their arrogance because it is lit dimly by pseudo-knowledge, by disingenuous calls for tolerance, by stubborn repetition of falsehoods, by mocking those who refuse to comply, by relentless intimidation and other affronts that might lead to violence. 

The result of this pervasive darkness must stem from the loss of sound principles and the rejection of absolutes. But a world without principles and absolutes is as good as a door without hinges. And, since the media in general sell their darkness as a new form of enlightenment, being unhinged, they wind up spewing out an array of chaotic guidelines and misinformation that hurt the gullible and confuse those yet to be enlightened by the Gospel.

Besides, without principles, human behavior gets flattened and pushed towards its lowest common denominator. Noble ideals are discouraged or devalued. Without absolutes, like God and natural law, a moral order is neither required nor expected. It is sufficient to avoid doing something politically incorrect—whatever that means. Basically, it is as if they were to say: “go with the flow of what is trendy in these days.”  

Is it any wonder that numerous people have lost their moral compass? 

So many have shaken off personal accountability and taken refuge in identity politics. Unaware of their darkness, they expect to be considered right not on account of correct moral behavior but on their choice of belonging to a group of alleged victims of oppression.  

How can we expect these amoral, unprincipled people to honestly tell what is right from what is wrong? They cannot!

Now, if I am accused of painting a dark picture here today, I would say that my accusers must be irrepressible and, maybe, blind optimists or, a long time ago, they stopped evaluating what is truly happening around them. Let us not be fooled by the world of darkness. We cannot ignore the seriousness of the situation and hope for the best without our direct involvement for the sake of the truth. From time to time, we need to be reminded of the presence and of the impact of darkness on all of us. This is crucial so that we can appreciate what we hear from our God: 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.

The good news that the Church wants to share with all is this: there is a Person who is both the Truth and the Light. His name is Jesus from Nazareth. About 2000 years ago, he left that obscure village to settle in Capernaum, the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, right in the middle of the darkest world of his time. 

And, on this very day, our faith assures us, he is here so that we may never again be the victims of falsehood and darkness. But for this to happen we have to react to his presence. We do so by comparing what the world has preached to us, as true and reliable, with the truth of his Gospel. We do so by assessing the damage that the falsehoods and the darkness of the world have brought into our minds. And we do so by falling in love with him just as Peter, Andrew, James and John did back then. 

However, some might say that what these four men did was irresponsible and foolish: they abandoned their aging parents, might have doomed their family business to possible financial disaster, and neglected their duties towards their children. Yet, this is what people who fall in love do; they do crazy things for their beloved. 

Nowadays, of course, we should not act foolishly or irresponsibly, but we should be as in love with Jesus as those four people were. We have to realize that through Baptism and our weekly reception of the flesh of our God in Holy Communion we are one with Jesus. Thus, if he is the Truth, we are the Truth. If he is the Light of the world, we are the Light of the world. 

It should be clear to all of us that, if we are in love with Jesus, in order to be, to think and to act as Truth; in order to be, to think and to act as Light, a great deal of courage, boldness, faith and willpower are required of us. The temptation is always present for us to punt, to crawl into our little niche and let things be as dark as they are now.                              

May Jesus Himself, the Truth and the Light of the world be always at our side to sustain us with his love and with his grace so that we may contribute personally to the triumph of Truth and Light.

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin