Imagine if you will, with me, the moments just before the dawn. Standing in the twilight just as the sun begins to break the horizon, the direction we face makes a lot of difference as to what we see. Looking west, we see a dark sky. It is difficult to distinguish things. Looking in this direction, it seems like the night will continue forever. All seems in shadow. However, if we turn East where the sky already begins to brighten, we begin to see more clearly that it will soon be full daylight.
We Christians live in the twilight between two ages, and the direction towards which we look matters. We live in the tension of twilight between the coming new radiant world ushered in by Christ’s resurrection, and the passing old dark world of sin and death; and where we choose to look affects the way we live in the world.
The Resurrection is the beginning of the new world which Christ creates. It is the dawn breaking over the horizon of our lives. It sheds new light on everything. When we look at ourselves, others, and the events of our lives in the light of the resurrection, we begin to recognize their true purpose and meaning. We can see that the new world, the new creation, the new heavens, and new earth has already begun to be formed out of the old. Christ is the Firstborn of this creation, and all of us follow after him.
As the dawn promises the full daylight, the resurrection promises the new world still yet coming to be. Already, we know Christ’s resurrection, yet we also know that evil still exists. A crucial question for us then is, how do we live in the tension? How do we cope with the darkness that still exists in our world, in others, and even in ourselves?
In the midst of this tension, we must fix our eyes upon the crucified and risen Christ and imitate him in love. How easily we let our sight be drawn westward into the dark night of the old world which is passing away rather than looking towards the dawn! When looking into the darkness of sin and evil in our world, a temptation to despair arises because we know that alone, we are unable to overcome the evil we encounter. We are tempted to forget what Christ has already done; to forget that behind us the dawn is already here and soon it will be midday.
But if we turn to the radiant dawn, of the resurrected Christ. We are filled with hope. We understand that the only effective response to the darkness in which we live is to love as Christ loved. Divine charity is the motive of every action of Jesus. He came for our good.
Our imitation of him consists in loving others as he has loved us. In doing so we participate in his own victory over evil on the Cross. The Cross, which was the greatest evil, has become the instrument of the greatest work of God: our redemption. Rather than being meaningless suffering, it brings glory to God and salvation for us because Christ endured it with love for us to the end.
The victory won on the Cross is the pattern of every true victory over evil. This victory transforms evil into the source of an even greater good. Like the dissonance in a symphony, which leads to a more beautiful resolution, evil is permitted that it might be transformed by loving sacrifice for the glory of God. Evil is not combatted by more evil, but by transformative love. God does not simply destroy the evil but transforms it into an instrument for his glory when we endure it with love for him and others.
We live with the certain hope that day will break upon us completely, that one day as St. John writes there will be no more tears, no more suffering, no more death. Yet here in the twilight, we must reject the temptation to stare into the darkness and rather fix our eyes on Christ who is the radiant dawn of the new age. We must fix our eyes squarely the crucified and resurrected Christ who has already overcome evil and love as he has loved for in the twilight of our lives we will be judged by our love.