USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
Jesus said to the Jews:
“If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John’s.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.
“I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?”
Good News Reflection: How bright is your light?
How strong is your Christian testimony? Does your life testify to the truth of God — not just your words, but the way you live your life? Does your life reflect the light of Christ so much that it brightens the darkness in others?
Today’s Gospel reading explains that Jesus was persecuted because he spoke the truth uncompromisingly, and because his whole life was a testimony to that truth. A barometer of how well our lives reflect his is whether or not we’re being persecuted. When we are truly shining as light in the darkness, those who prefer the darkness react against us. Their eyes need time to adjust.
Think of how you react when you’re sleeping in a dark room and someone turns on the lights. Do you smile and say, “Thank you”? Not most of us. Startled, we react with hatred for the light, even if we know it’s time to wake up.
When your life testifies to the truth of God, the light of Christ in you startles people out of their sleep. They will bury themselves deeper under the covers of their darkness, because it feels like a security blanket. But your continual light will seep through even the thickest blanket fibers.
Then, if they really want to remain in darkness, they will try to find a way to shut off your light. Stand strong but take your bright light elsewhere. Give them time to adjust their vision. Keep praying for them. Keep loving them. Eventually, the darkness will cause them to stumble and their sufferings will make them want to change.
In the meanwhile, what should we do with the sufferings we endure from persecutions? Do we want to join our persecutors in the darkness by fighting back unlovingly? Do we protect ourselves through compromise, forsaking the truth? Do we try to cope by complaining?
We will find peace and healing only by taking our complaints to God (and him alone) and by focusing on how the persecutions are uniting us to Christ.
Like Jesus, we can offer our sufferings as a sacrifice for those who live in darkness. Jesus did not overcome his persecutors by defending himself. Rather, he trusted that his sufferings would eventually conquer the darkness. We can do this, too. The love we have for our persecutors and the union we have with Jesus will make a difference. Our patient endurance will help the eyes of those in darkness to adjust to the light so that their hearts will finally accept the truth.
If you’re not being persecuted for your faith, your light’s not shining very brightly. But if your light is that bright, appreciate how good this is and rejoice in it! The truth is worth being persecuted for. It’s a sign that your life is filled with Christ.
Forgive me, Lord, because too often I don’t reflect Your light, because I am afraid of persecution. Strengthen my will so that no one and nothing may ever stop me from testifying about Your love. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica