From our first reading at today’s Holy Mass, taken from St. John’s first letter: The one who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous.
Now, who is this ‘he?’ He is the incarnate Son, the eternal Word made flesh, the revelation of the triune love of God, Jesus of Nazareth.
We go on to read: Whoever sins belongs to the devil…the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil.
1. St. John’s fundamental message in his letter is: God is light and love; hatred and darkness come from the devil.
There really is a Force, and it really has a dark side. And the dark side really has exercised destructive power over the human race from the original Fall of man.
But God came in the flesh to do battle with the devil and defeat him. So light and love have triumphed and are triumphing.
2. These fundamental underpinnings of moral reality give us the humility we need to achieve true happiness. We human beings do not possess the greatest intelligence, nor the most-powerful wills, in the cosmos. God and the devil both have more smarts and more power than we do.
So human freedom doesn’t mean you or me acting independently. It means you and me co-operating with the divine grace of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus. And His grace is: Love. Selfless love. The love He showed on the cross.
Yes, morals involve making personal, independent decisions. We don’t obey like dogs or donkeys. We can sin, or we can act righteously, and it lies in the power of our knowledge and freedom to choose one or the other.
But our personal, independent moral decisions take place in this far-greater context: the cosmos-sized battle between good and evil, in which God is conquering the devil, by the power of Jesus Christ’s love, for the salvation of the world.
When we recognize that we are, so to speak, little players in the much larger game of good vs. evil; when we perceive that the drama of history is in fact God playing chess with the devil, then we can peacefully and happily take our place as pawns.
Let me allow the good Lord to use me for good. I can trust that all will be well. I don’t need to see the grand scheme; that is for God alone to see. I just need to love my neighbor with Christian love right here and now.