Those in today’s present darkness cannot comprehend the crucified Savior. It is the same today as it was in the first century A.D., those who live in the darkness of evil cannot comprehend, they do not know, they do not “get” God on a cross; nor do they want to.
Tenebrae Eam Non Comprehenderunt
St. John, the illiterate, rambunctious, son-of-thunder, former smelly gnarled-hand fisherman, evangelist and apostle, was inspired by God to write: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (Jn 1:3-5). This Light was Jesus Christ, the Word of God. St. John goes on to say that “The world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” (Jn 1:10).
About this incomprehensible Light, St. Paul, formerly, prior to his divine butt-kicking metanoia, the christian-stoning muscle for the powerful priests, was inspired by God to write: “ . . . I preach Christ crucified.” (1 Cor 1:23). St. Paul had no idea the “present darkness” of his time would be even darker today: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12).
This Present Darkness – Narcissism
Because of what they believe, and how they live, a deity, a generous selfless deity, especially a crucified deity, makes no sense to those of this present darkness. If they acknowledge Jesus in any way, many of them echo the bad thief, Gestas, in his self-centered ridicule from his own cross and in his selfish, implicit denial of Jesus crucified, Yeah, if you’re really God, do me a favor, get down off that cross, and save me.
If one reads any of many news reports, goes to a current events internet site, or listens to any hourly radio news broadcast, the existence and pervasive scope of the “present darkness” permeating life around the world becomes clear, undeniable, and without faith, overwhelming. This is the darkness of corruption, war, genocide, slavery, mayhem, perversion, poverty, acid attacks, hunger, torture, chaos, murder, epidemic STDs, persecution, beheadings, and sin – and these rival or exceed any prior time in human history.
At its core, this darkness is the darkness of self, self existing only in the present for self alone. It is the darkness of my-body-my-self, of me, me, me, now, now, now, more, more, more (“MeNowMore”).
Many young people today score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory than did those of prior generations. The Narcissistic Personality Inventory social psychological research test (NPI) which measures narcissism, is based on clinical criteria for narcissistic personality disorder and was designed to measure narcissism in the general population.
Some say there is a “narcissism epidemic” today and that this is reflected in every aspect of our lives. Walk through any mall or across most campuses – at all levels of education – when no one is protesting, and see how few people or children look up from their screens of “likes,” “tweets,” and “selfies” to look at or to even acknowledge the existence of other persons.
Lovers of Pleasure, Not of God
In his letter to Timothy, St. Paul describes our present MeNowMore people:
But understand this: there will be terrifying times in the last days. People will be self-centered and lovers of money, proud, haughty, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious, callous, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them. (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
The tip, but only the bloody tip, of this MeNowMore darkness is the daily killing worldwide of thousands of babies in their mothers’ wombs, for what a mother or a father perceives to be possible increased present pleasure, career advancement, or “freedom.” Hundreds of millions of them have been killed simply because they were little girls.
This present darkness is also the stock and trade of world rulers and those in power who take advantage of and prey on those who live the MeNowMore lifestyle, promising instant, ongoing pleasure and its guarantee in trade for personal liberty. The goal of killing the unborn children, for many world rulers of this present darkness, is to control the populations they rule.
Death? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Death!
No longer does the MeNowMore darkness even take the trouble to repeat or admit the epicurean admonition, “for tomorrow you may die,” because this darkness – enrapturing, captivating, all-encompassing, and engrossed in self pleasure – ignores death or declares that science has not proven there is anything after this life.
The death of another, family member, friend or stranger, has little effect on the actions of a MeNowMore person; nor does it cause them to think of their own death. Another’s death brings them no pleasure. Certainly, there is no thought or even suspicion that one too will someday die, that there is anything after death, or that what is done now could impact how one is then-even if there was a “then.” Others, relying on new proclamations of the centuries-old mercy heresy, admit that yes, there is something after this earthly life, but not to worry, a merciful God would never condemn anyone forever, that is not Jesus’s good news.
Darkness – Relativism Is Not Morality
One key to a morality is that other persons have intrinsic value and, as persons of value, there are things which an individual cannot do and has no right to do – one cannot, e.g., willy-nilly kill other people, lie to them, commit adultery, or steal their property. This present darkness, however, proclaims that one morality is as good as another, and, therefore, you cannot impose your morality on me. If it feels good, you can do it, even if this impinges on another’s rights or injures another; and if you can get away with it, you can do it, and good for you.
It is easy to see why this present darkness is befuddled, uneasy, and discombobulated by Jesus crucified.
On the cross naked, Jesus had no possessions. On the cross ridiculed, no one “liked” Him or called out to Him “Hosanna.” On the cross immobilized by the nails, He had no freedom. On the cross, there was no pleasure. On the cross in inconceivable pain, He knew it would only get worse, it would not cease, and there was no other outcome except His death – but He stayed on the Cross. On the cross, He knew He was dying for each and everyone of the MeNowMore people of this present darkness, and their world rulers. And He knew they would deny He even existed as God.
As usual, St. Augustine provides a profound discussion of this crucified Christ:
Therefore the Christ who is preached throughout the whole world is not Christ adorned with an earthly crown, nor Christ rich in earthly treasures, nor Christ illustrious for earthly prosperity, but Christ crucified. This was ridiculed, at first, by whole nations of proud men, and is still ridiculed by a remnant among the nations, but it was the object of faith at first to a few and now to whole nations, because when Christ crucified was preached at that time, notwithstanding the ridicule of the nations, to the few who believed, the lame received power to walk, the dumb to speak, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the dead were restored to life. Thus, at length, the pride of this world was convinced that, even among the things of this world, there is nothing more powerful than the humility of God (1 Cor: 1:23-25) so that beneath the shield of a divine example that humility, which it is most profitable for men to practice, might find defense against the contemptuous assaults of pride. (Letter CCXXXII, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, ed. Schaff, Vol. 1, pp. 586-587, 1886).
Each Believer is the Light of the Crucified, Dying Christ
In response to the bad thief’s self-centered ridicule, what does Jesus do? He confirms the good thief’s, St. Dismas, declaration that He is Lord; tells him that, indeed, there is more than the self pleasures of this life; and that He will bring the good thief with Him to Paradise.
There never was and never will be any greater love than this. In laying down His own life for Dismas and for these, all His friends, in denying His own self for them, He was, to those of this present darkness, a stumbling block and a fool. No human reasoning alone could convince them otherwise. But the light of His dying can dispel their darkness.
This is our example of what we must do today. Each of us is here and each of us is now the light of His dying; the light for everyone, including the MeNowMore folks and their present dark rulers. Each of us is His light which can shine in this present darkness.