Having faith doesn’t have to mean avoiding real life
A Reflection for Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Find today’s readings here.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One. (Jn 17:15)
At America Media, one of the things we like to say about our work is that we “interpret the church for the world and the world for the church.” As we cover news and communicate with readers online and through the pages of our print magazine, we are steeped in the goings-on of the contemporary world, from politics to Vatican news to the latest developments in pop culture.
I read today’s Gospel with our work in mind, and in particular with our readers in mind. While there’s a level on which Jesus is praying for his disciples and the people he’s known during his life on earth, there’s also an element of his tender conversation with the Father that seems to contain his hopes for all of us.
For Christians, worldly things hold a lot of complexity, largely because of the sentiment Jesus expresses in the reading for today. Jesus’ time on earth was never meant to last, and neither is ours. Beyond this life, we hope for and look forward to something greater.
It’s evil we’re trying to avoid, not life.
There’s a way of interpreting this that could encourage us to separate ourselves from earthly concerns, to keep religion and spirituality at a safe distance from other parts of human life. But that isn’t what we do.
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.”
To me, this captures the nuance of what we are trying to accomplish much better than I ever could do on my own. (Thanks, Jesus.) We are in the world, and as many problems as there might be and as much as we may want to get away from them, God’s beauty and love are here, too. There are sinful and problematic tendencies to avoid, but if we retreat completely from what this world has to offer, we miss out on the opportunity to experience a lot of grace—and in our work, to communicate it as best we can to other people who are searching for it. It’s evil we’re trying to avoid, not life.
I’m so inspired by people who remind those around them that the world is often as beautiful a place to be as it is a scary one. I can think of many on our staff alone. I’m sure there are several in your life, too. In fact, I’m sure you are one of those people in the eyes of many of your neighbors.