6 Apr 2016
Most people don’t choose to do the wrong thing. Instead, we choose whatever we think will give us pleasure and happiness. Even people who intentionally commit crimes do it because it gives them a thrill. And this is something our Catholic tradition has recognized since at least the Middle Ages: we choose whatever we think is good and life-giving, and we avoid the rest.
And so, we might take issue with Saint John when he says, “People preferred darkness to light.” Instead, we might say: “People preferred whatever they perceive as light, even if—in reality—it isn’t.” We hear the voice of Saint Paul creep in here when he asks: “Why do I do what I don’t want to do, and yet I don’t do what I do want to do?” Well, maybe it’s because sometimes what we perceive in life as good or bad . . . is really just the opposite.
Take the chief priests and Sadducees as an example: they were dead set on upholding their tradition—not in defiance of God, but in a spirit of defending God. In their eyes, getting rid of Jesus was a good thing; putting the Apostles in prison was a good thing. They didn’t necessarily “prefer darkness to light;” they preferred what they thought was good.
Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing. We can look back on them and see: “Oh! That wasn’t a good thing they chose to do.” And we can do that to ourselves as well. We might look back at our high school years, and remember all the things we said or did, and we wonder: “What was I thinking?!” Or we might look at our life of faith, and remember something we’d said to someone in a spirit of “admonishing the sinner;” only realizing now that maybe the hard-nosed approach wasn’t the best; maybe we could’ve been more gentle and kind.
And that kind of reflection is a good way to learn how to live an authentic Catholic life as a disciple of Christ; we learn from our mistakes. But we also learn to choose the path of light and goodness by “seeking the Lord” with a humble heart and open mind—not just sometimes, but always.
Yesterday we heard about “eternal life” and “Easter living.” And we hear about them again today. Well, “seeking the Lord”—trying to choose what is really and truly good—is a big part of “Easter living.” And so, even in the midst of life’s mistakes, may we learn to see what is good in life, and then follow it—with the help of God.