Light that cannot be overcome by the darkness
December 22, 2021
“What came to be through (the Word) was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:4-5, 14a).
One of the oldest arguments against the existence of God is known as the “problem of evil.” The argument goes something like this: If God is all-good and all-powerful, then how can He allow evil to exist in the world? This question is not for the atheist or agnostic only. Indeed, even people of faith find themselves doubting God’s goodness because of evil’s apparent victory in our world.
The news channels – both left and right – have capitalized on stirring up fear and anxiety in their audiences by preaching the anti-Gospel of doom and gloom. As a result, many Americans are convinced that the other political party is driving the country to destruction and that the world is worse off than it ever has been. When people of faith allow themselves to get drawn into such a hopeless vision of a world unredeemed, they too can fall victim to the despair that God has abandoned them and that evil has triumphed.
Christmas reminds us that God has not abandoned us and that He purposefully has inserted Himself into our world to save us from its destruction. The salvation that is announced in the Lord’s Nativity is not one that returns us to an earthly paradise. (His humble birth ought to make that abundantly clear!) Rather, the ancient sin of our first parents – in which each of us has participated by our own personal sin – has cast us out of that paradise and brought about the destruction of the world. Christ is content to let this world pass away, but He does not desire that we pass away with it. The salvation He offers us is realized in a kingdom that is not of this world.
In saving us, God permits the created world to suffer the consequence of our sin. So, yes, the world is collapsing around us – as it has been since that original sin of Adam. The world’s demise is no more or less than it ever has been. It is ongoing, and the darkness remains; but this does not mean that evil has won. When the Light came into the world, the world’s darkness could not overcome Him. Jesus entered even into the extreme darkness of death and came out victorious!
Christians celebrate the Birth of Christ not because He restored us to an earthly paradise but because He came to walk with us in this fallen world … to walk with us through the gate of death … and to walk with us into the eternal life of heaven. God has defeated evil, and, though we continue to witness its terrible effects, we keep our eyes fixed on the Light that can never be overcome by the darkness.
Father Jeff Loseke is pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Gretna.