I will never forget the feeling of sitting at the old Hub Theater in Rochelle watching the first Star Wars Movie. I was sixteen. I was not then, and am certainly not now, especially a fan of science fiction, but the epic battle portrayed in the story caught my imagination and stirred something within me: some recognition of truth and heroism and hope. And yes, the power of darkness.
For I find my heart aching in these past days to hear that two young men who returned to Chicago for Christmas break — students from our own Northern Illinois University— were killed by gun fire while home.
There is still light and darkness. Good and evil. And one wonders if the light will prevail.
I have spent a whole lot of time in this otherwise festive season walking alongside those whose grief is heavy. No matter their age, the one who died always died too soon and those left behind are left to sort out life without them.
Yes, one wonders when or if the light will prevail for we live in a world where darkness threatens still to have the last word.
War still rages in too many parts of the world and innocents are affected in ways that we cannot ignore their plight.
Oh yes, we wonder still if the Light will have the last word or not.
And yet, we who cling to the Light keep on pointing to it. Even Queen Elizabeth in her annual Christmas Message pointed to these words in John’s Gospel:
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it…”
She spoke these words as she reflected on the shared moments of darkness the world has experienced in this last year. You can watch and listen here: The Queen’s Christmas Message 2015.
The light prevails.
I do have to say this, though. Many will go to this movie to enjoy the special effects. And yes, many will be utterly convinced (if we are not already) that violence is the only way to combat violence. And yet, it seemed to me that the most powerful parts of the story were those which reflected love and sacrifice. For one’s beloved, yes. And for one’s beloved child.
For this is always so. The message of today’s Gospel is that the power of Light is not ours to use to destroy one’ enemies. Rather, it is always ours to invite and encourage and somehow enable others to follow that Light which brings Life. Even those who seem to have been consumed by the power of darkness. Yes, even those. For in the end? Light itself destroys the darkness. Every time.
- Certainly others will address the theological parallels and themes of the latest Star Wars movie better than I. If you have seen it, how would you modify what I have offered here?
- It is easy to find signs of darkness in the world today. Where have you seen evidence of the light over which the darkness has not prevailed?
- For me the most meaningful parts of the movie are where love and sacrifice are joined. This seems to be the place where light prevails, even though they are marked by profound suffering. And this is our Gospel Story, too, is it not?