Our small community hasn’t done the candle-lighting ritual before evening prayer for the past two months. In the candle’s place we have a small globe encircled by its stand, a ring of gold. We take the globe from its stand, and adjust its placement as we choose a country, a people, a region, where the Light of Christ seems dim and needful and we pray that the Light of the World will shine there with peace and healing and hope. It’s a way to keep us aware of Christ’s presence and promise in the midst of the whirling winds of bad news and constant noise of things going bad, the winds and waves and fires and floods, our brothers and sisters imperiled and fleeing from war and terror, and the mounting anguish of hearts broken and lives ruined. It’s a way to bolster us in our Christian gift and task of bringing hope in Christ Jesus, the Light no darkness can vanquish.
There’s a Taize chant that I love, with words that foster my hope.
Goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger that death;
Victory is ours, victory is ours, through him who loves us. (Repeat)
“Victory” is a bit martial sounding—a suggestion of a clash of armor heard in the distance– but it is a word that Christians use for the Paschal Mystery at work in history and eternity, with its great Feast celebrated at Easter. As a religious metaphor, it always needs some careful trimming and more room to grow. And there is always the question, “Well, where is it, where can we see this victory?” because it wears a different face, God’s face.
Over recent weeks we have seen the ugly fissures scarring our American landscape and felt the fear that things may be falling apart. We will never know ourselves in the same way, never again sing “God Bless America” without taking a knee. We’re mystified at our own processes of self-destruction. We cannot explain ourselves to ourselves. Our nation and our world cry out for Truth, justice, and repentance. Optimism is far too fragile a vehicle to sustain the transformation eternally offered us. Only hope in God’s presence and promises can carry us on that journey, which we can see is the Way of the Cross writ large, a hard path, and painful.
Our scholar brother Marie-Dominique Chenu once wrote, “You might say that when something new is beginning, when things shake and tumble, then (we) are most happy. For a special opportunity is being given to observe the Word of God at work in history. The “Nowness” of God is shaking up the world.”
God, the prime “mover and shaker” is at work in the rattling and rumbling of sin and death, stronger than all that threatens us. Victory is first and finally God’s work, and it seems for now that God is calling us to preach grace wherever and whenever it breaks through, and to “wait in joyful hope” as God-in-Christ gathers us all into the Light and the Peace surpassing all understanding.