On Worldly Knowledge

Meditation on John 1

John begins his Gospel by evoking as a witness the creation account in Genesis. However, his account differs from the Genesis account in that he focuses much less on the creation itself and much more on the Creator of all life. Further, while Genesis focuses on the first creation, John focuses on the new creation in Christ. In declaring that the Word was with God, he illustrates that they are two separate beings; while in declaring that the Word was God, he shows that they are of One essence. See, each member of the Trinity is co-equal and co-eternal, each a separate person, and yet each of One essence.

Only God Himself has life, thus the Word, being God, is the source of all life. And that life is the light of all men. In making this statement, John now shifts the focus away from Jesus who is the source of all life, and illustrates mankind as the receiver of this life; of this divine light. And mankind, by receiving this light, becomes children of the light, able through His grace to become what He is in His essence. Mankind, when they choose to receive this light become alive, the light of the whole world. And this light is the light which shines in the darkness of the world; the light of life. We become ambassadors of Christ, His letter to the world. Through our own faith and light, we display the wonder and glory of His grace, thereby leading others to Him.

The darkness that John speaks of, however, is both spiritual ignorance and worldly, satanic opposition. There are some who prefer the darkness to the light (John 3:19). They choose this ignorance, this sinful passion, over the light of Truth. When the light of the Truth is offered to them, they prefer the fleeting pleasures of this world, the earthly desires, to the sacrifices required to walk in the light. And not only do they prefer this darkness, but they strive to keep others there as well. They teach others that to walk in the darkness is fine. As Jude teaches, they “turn the grace of our God into lewdness and through their actions deny the only Lord God.” (Jude 1:4). So, they concoct theories and ideologies that “make sense” in human logic, while burying the Truth of the mysteries behind this wall of earthly knowledge and wisdom.

John goes on to say that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” The word translated here “comprehend” is the Greek word “katalambano,” which means both to understand and to overcome. Thus the word has a dual meaning in this sentence. It states that the darkness will never understand the light. To those who are without faith, in love with worldly pleasures and seeking this temporal fulfillment, the asceticism that the Lord demands seems foolish. In fact, the very message of the cross is foolishness to those who are walking in darkness. The second meaning, however, is that the darkness will never overcome the Truth. No matter what theories and ideologies are presented to the world, no matter how wise the world seems, it will never overcome the Truth of the Faith. Consider how often in our history science and philosophy change. Yesterday’s wives tales becoming today’s medicine and yesterday’s science becoming today’s superstition. Yet, throughout all the ages, the Truth has never changed, it remains Truth whilst the rest of the world is adrift in a sea of knowledge, constantly being buffeted by the ebb and flow of the tides of human understanding.

Let us always choose the Truth, my brothers and sisters. Our science, our philosophy, our art; each of these things can increase our awareness of God’s presence in the world. And, when used for that purpose, let us acknowledge it as being what it is. However, when the purpose of these things is an attempt to usurp our knowledge of God, let us choose Truth instead. We must remember, the world hates Jesus, it hated Him so strongly that it crucified Him; and it continues that hatred towards any who truly follow Him. The world will hate and mock those who are truly walking in the Faith, because the Faith holds a mirror to them and reveals to them their true sinfulness. A Christian need not tell anyone that they’re walking in darkness; rather a Christian who is walking in the faith will reveal that darkness to them by the mere presence of the light of our Lord Jesus. And, when the world stands against us, when all knowledge and wisdom seem to be logical in human terms, we must remember the words of St Paul, “let God be true though every one were a liar.” (Romans 3:4). Even if every single person in the world says one thing, if it contradicts God, then they’re wrong. Let us always choose His truth, even when we don’t understand it, over the lies that the world will teach us, remembering that the world is “of it’s father the devil, and the desires of it’s father it wants to do…when he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).

Satan is the father of lies and is very good at manipulating. That is why we need the words of God to know, and the wisdom of the Church to help us understand them. The temptation is to look to our own understanding when reading the Scripture, which Scripture itself warns us so strongly against. Proverbs tells us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), Peter warns us that “no matter of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) and St Paul admonishes us to “cling to the traditions passed down, whether by word (oral tradition) or by epistle (letter)” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). We must cling to the Truth. We must cling to the Faith, the words of God, the teachings of His Church; and we must always remember that the world will mock us, scorn us, hate us, for this fact. Let us remain steadfast in faith and in love, and never let the enemy lead us astray.

May the grace of the Lord be with us all. Christ is in our midst.

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