When God asks us to follow Him, the matter is simply black and white.
Today, I was praying for a man named John who is seriously ill in hospital (not with COVID) and while I prayed for him, I prayed for others who are also ill – the father of a student of mine is very, very ill with COVID overseas, and for him I also pray.
Overseas, the situation is so dire that in some countries the hospitals are so overwhelmed that they are refusing to treat anyone who does not have COVID. In those places, if you break your arm, you had better catch COVID if you would like to have your injury attended to – because the medical system simply cannot keep up with the rate of infection.
The virus is so out of control in those countries that some have entered a two-week lockdown – a literal lockdown – where house doors are sealed for two entire weeks. They are not allowed to leave home – even for food without specific police clearance.
How desperate and afraid the people must be? How I pray for their strength!
Today, during Mass, I reflected on the Gospel (John 1:35-42) which told the story of Andrew and John calling Simon Peter to Christ to follow Him. So amazed were they by Christ – by their discovery of God – that they left the discipleship of Saint John the Baptist and not only followed Christ but called others to Him as well!
That moment of conversion – granted through Grace – is so amazing, so fascinating, so transformative that it changes our view of the entire world.
In writing his Gospel some 60 years or so after the death and resurrection of Christ, Saint John the Beloved remembers his call to follow Christ so vividly that he can recount the exact hour during which he was called over half a century earlier… “It was the tenth hour…” (4pm).
There is something amazing about that clarity.
And Saint John is not alone in his vivid recollection of that moment of conversion and faith…
Most of the saints were granted the Grace to recognise and respond to a moment of conversion – an opportunity to know God and love God more! Saint Matthew left everything in an instant to follow Christ. Saint Therese of the Child Jesus also speaks of a moment of clarity in conversion to greater communion with God. Saint Paul and Saint Francis of Assisi both heard God’s own voice calling them and followed Him.
When my beautiful little niece was so very sick last year – through Grace and no merit of my own – I experienced my purpose in one moment of perfect clarity. Suddenly, in that instant, everything was clear. How much does God love me to give me that for FREE when I am least deserving of it?
Suddenly, simply everything in the world faded away. It was unimportant. The only thing of import was God. For I suddenly saw that God is my BELOVED and I wanted – with all my being – to be within the compass of His love and to do whatever it would take to be close to Him!
The world really is all black and white. The laws of physics tell us that black is an absence of colour at all and white contains all the colours on the spectrum. How clever God is to show Himself to us through the simple laws of the physical world He created!
Suddenly, in that instant of conversion – and God willing forever afterwards – all the colours of the rainbow faded away to nothing and all that was left was the blinding white light of God’s love in contrast to the empty darkness away from Him.
My choice was easy. So is yours.
The Evil One tries to confound us by tempting us with all the shades of the rainbow. What a deception! He would convince us that in walking into the white light of God we would be leaving behind all the other shades – the red or the blue or the yellow. The truth is rather the opposite! What we leave behind is just that – shades!
In accepting the WHITE and stepping away from the shades of red or blue or yellow that the Evil One would have us believe we cannot live without, we do not forego anything – we embrace EVERYTHING!
For White – like God – is the compilation of everything – there is no absence of colour in white, just as there is no absence of experience in God. The colours – the shades – that we think we are missing out on are not better than the white. They are worse. They are mere illusions.
Shades are an imperfect expression of white as it interacts with the blackness and though our human eyes find those shades beautiful – our spiritual soul sees them for what they are – evidence of our imperfections and separation from God.
It is the shades that dim the glory of God. Lucky for me, God loves me anyway!
Now, if only I can just keep stepping back into the light. My only prayer is that you can too!
That is what a moment of conversion really is. The ability to see everything as either black or white.
For with vision, everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.