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THIS IS THE VICTORY THAT OVERCOMES THE WORLD, OUR FAITH
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, Seventh Week of Easter, May 29, 2017
Acts 19:1-8, Psalm 67, John 16:29-33


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.


"Indeed the hour is coming, yes, and has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:32-33 NKJV).


Jesus is now preparing his disciples for the shocking events of his crucifixion, in which they will be scattered and leave him alone. But he assures them that even at such a seemingly dreadful time, he will not be alone, for the Father will be with him.


True, even the Father will seem to abandon Christ on the cross, but Jesus knows that this is for a good purpose, namely to bear his Father's wrath for our sins to atone for them, vicariously suffering God's wrath instead of us suffering it for our sins. And Jesus knows that this is only for a brief time for a good purpose, to suffer our chastisement for our sins so that we might have peace by being reconciled thereby with God. He tells his disciples that he is not alone, even though most of them will abandon him, "for," he says, "the Father is with me" (John 16:32).


Jesus tells them this so that they too might have peace at all times, especially in hard times. Our peace will be in Christ. "I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace" (John 16:33a). Christ is the source of our peace, even in the midst of affliction. "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33b). So in the midst of the tribulations of life, we can find deep peace in Christ, because Christ is himself a source of peace and joy of spirit that can coexist with tribulation in the world and enable us to endure such tribulation and remain at peace in our heart.


Christ, in fact, has overcome the world. The world is the sum of negative forces all around us, worldly values that try to trip us up, seduce, tempt, and derail us from our true course. But worldly values are superficial and false. They are not the values of Christ. And Christ's values are superior to and stronger than them, and have in fact already conquered and defeated them.


So when faced with worldly attacks and tribulations, we are to take refuge in Christ and find peace in him. We are to seek our peace and joy in Christ, not in the world and not in worldly pleasures that distract us from our true goal in life.


To avoid the tribulation that the world will bring us, we need to avoid worldly behavior ourselves and have clear principles and rules for our own behavior, rules that we always keep. Otherwise the world and its ways will get the better of us and defeat us, instead of us defeating the world in Christ.


Our basic principles and rules come from God and help us defend ourselves against the seduction and temptations of the world that weaken and overwhelm us, causing us sadness rather than peace and joy.


God's moral law is to be the norm we follow and by which we regulate our behavior and set the parameters within which we live, the boundaries that we do not cross. If we live like this, we will be at peace in Christ, because our life will be in accord with his will for us, and we, like him, will never be alone, for God will be with us.


"He who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him" (John 8:29).


If we always do what is pleasing to God, he will always be with us too, giving us peace, just as he was always with Jesus. And how can we always do what is pleasing to God so as to always be with him and never be alone, and always be at peace, even in the midst of the trials of life and the seduction, attraction and attacks of the world?


We will always do God's will if we remember that we are not of the world anymore than Christ is of the world. This is what Jesus said to his Father in prayer about his disciples, "I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:14).


Indeed, we are not to be of the world. Christ chose us out of the world and taught us otherwise. He taught us to renounce worldly ways and a worldly lifestyle and to live in a radically different way from the world. We are to renounce worldliness. The result will be that worldly people will hate us, because we have renounced their values and ways of living. "The world has hated them because they are not of the world" (John 17:14).


"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:19).


There are two opposite ways of living. By living one way, we will be hated by the world. But by living in the opposite way, we will be loved by the world. Christ wants us to live in such a way that we are hated, not loved, by the world. We are to reject worldly values and a worldly lifestyle, and so the world will reject and hate us; but we will find peace in God, and God will always be with us, "He who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him" (John 8:29).


If we reject worldly ways, we will have conflicts with the world that will also reject us, but since we will be doing what is pleasing to God by rejecting worldly ways of living, God will be with us and not leave us alone. "He who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him" (John 8:29).


Jesus overcomes the world, and if we are in him and live in accord with his will, we will have peace in our lives and we too will overcome the world. "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).


St. John tells us that we also will overcome the world: "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith" (1 John 5:4). If we are born of God by faith, by our faith we will overcome the world. "This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith" (1 John 5:4).


About the world, St. John tells us, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). We should love the world as Jesus did, namely to save the world from its sinful ways, not to be overcome by its worldly ways. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).


But in terms of imitating the worldliness of the world, we are not to love the world. If we are successful in not loving in the world, we will overcome the world, and God will always be with us and never leave us alone, and we will have peace in Christ in the midst of our tribulation in the world.


Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God. "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). Let us now live a sanctified life in accord with God's will, rejecting worldliness and a worldly lifestyle so that God may always remain with us and we might have peace in Christ and overcome the world.

 

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