The tragic events of the past few weeks, give the impression of a creeping darkness enveloping our world, our country, our communities, our very lives. And we appear to be powerless to beat it back.
The darkness of terrorism is creeping into our world; whether individual acts of terror, like in Orlando, Florida; or the organized terrorist attack at the airport of Istanbul and the restaurant in Bangladesh. Violence is casting a pall over the world. And it is causing another type of darkness to grow and spread; the darkness of fear and intolerance. We have politicians painting one ethnic group, one religious group, as the breeding ground for terrorists, and calling for denying them the human rights that belong to every human being. We see citizens attacking both immigrants and native born, all because of the faith they subscribe to. We see fear mongering, name calling, and personal attacks becoming standard practice among our politicians; and causing a darkness to creep into our political process. And the darkness is creeping into the hearts of all us; as we see a world plunging into chaos. The stress of daily life, in uncertain economic times, is putting out the light of hope; leaving depression, sadness, darkness.
In times such as these I find my hope in words that, though written thousands of ago, still have the power to move my heart, to set my heart aflame:
“In the beginning, the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. Through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him. The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.” (John 1: 1-5)
In Christ, when I; when any of us, encounter Him in Word and Sacrament, hope can rekindled in our hearts. And if Christ can enflame our hearts, we in turn must share that flame of hope with others, and dispel the darkness.
There is story about a Desert Father, one who spent most his life as hermit, who was approached by a disciple for guidance. The disciple had been fervent in prayer, diligent in fasting and meditating on the Scriptures. He wanted to know what more he needed to do? The Desert Father raised his hands over his head, and spread his fingers. Each finger became a tongue of fire. He said: “You can become flame.” When we have an encounter with Christ, we are called to share that experience with all those we come in contact with. We are to share the light of Christ; we are to become flame and light to the darkness around us. Let us burn with the fire of Christ.