“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not the truest of guides for human life?” ~Saint Benedict, from the Rule of Saint Benedict (73:3)
“Christian faith in the full sense of the word, is not just the acceptance of ‘truths about’ Christ. It is not just acquiescence in the story of Christ with its moral and spiritual implications. It is not merely the decision to put into practice, to some extent at least, the teachings of Christ. All these forms of acceptance are compatible with an acquiescence in what is ‘not Christ.’ It is quite possible to ‘believe in Christ,’ in the sense of mentally accepting the truth that He lived on earth, died, and rose from the dead, and yet still live ‘in the flesh,’ according to the standards of a greedy, violent, unjust and corrupt society, without noticing any real contradiction in one’s life. But the real meaning of faith is the rejection of everything that is not Christ in order that all life, all truth, all hope, all reality may be sought and found ‘in Christ.’”
Excerpted from “Life and Holiness” by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO
Monday, March 14 ~ Fifth Week in the Season of Lent
Holy Gospel: John 8:12-20 Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So the Pharisees said to him, “You testify on your own behalf, so your testimony cannot be verified.” Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I do testify on my own behalf, my testimony can be verified, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone. And even if I should judge, my judgment is valid, because I am not alone, but it is I and the Father who sent me. Even in your law it is written that the testimony of two men can be verified. I testify on my behalf and so does the Father who sent me.” So they said to him, “Where is your father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the treasury in the temple area. But no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
Meditation: The word “light” as used throughout sacred scripture is associated with God. “The Lord is my light” (Psalm 27:1). “The Lord will be your everlasting light” (Isaiah 60:19). “When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me” (Micah 7:8). Jesus chastises the scribes and Pharisees for making bad judgments based on wrong assumptions and evil intentions. Jesus bases his judgment not on human knowledge and perception but on God’s knowledge and revelation. Jesus is both just and merciful as none other can be. His light both exposes the darkness of sin inside each of us, which is hidden from others, and heals our sinful infirmities as well. The light of Christ also produces abundant life and fruit in us. Just as natural life depends on light (few plants and animals can survive without sunlight), so the light of heaven produces spiritual life in those who receive it. The light which Jesus gives enables us to walk freely and confidently without stumbling in the darkness of sin and disbelief. His light warms our heart to the truth of God’s love and it opens our vision to the reality of God’s kingdom.
Prayer: O God, by whose wondrous grace we are enriched with every blessing, grant us so to pass from former ways to newness of life, that we may be made ready for the glory of the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: In your heart of hearts, do you desire to be changed and transformed in Christ-like holiness? God never withholds his grace from us. His steadfast love and mercy is new every day (ref. Lamentations 3:22-23). Through the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit we can be changed and made new in Christ. He can set us free from our unruly desires and passions. As St. Augustine prays: “God our Father, we find it difficult to come to you, because our knowledge of you is imperfect. In our ignorance we have imagined you to be our enemy; we have wrongly thought that you take pleasure in punishing our sins; and we have foolishly conceived you to be a tyrant over human life. But since Jesus came among us, he has shown that you are loving, that you are on our side against all that stunts life, and that our resentment against you was groundless. So we come to you, asking you to forgive our past ignorance, and wanting to know more and more of you and your forgiving love, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”