"I came into the world as light"

Many people, even devout Christians, imagine the concept of eternal judgement in the wrong way.

It is natural enough. The words that we use are laden with cultural and linguistic baggage. For most of us, when we hear the word 'judgement', immediately our brain responds with mental images of courtrooms, lawyers and a black robed judge on a high bench.

But this is not the way God's judgement works.

In today's Gospel reading, Jesus tells us:
"Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day" (John 12:48)
Jesus is the Just Judge, but he isn't weighing the merits of evidence or subjectively evaluating guilt or innocence. There is no argument for the prosecution or defense. There is nothing to weigh; God's judgement is about a simple objective fact. As the Lord explains it earlier in John's Gospel:
"And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil" (John 3:19)
The judgement is, in reality, one that we make ourselves. Do we prefer darkness or light? Truth or lies? Love or hate?

Jesus simply comes to shine a light on that choice.
 "I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world." (John 12:46-47)
His purpose is to show us what goodness, truth, beauty and love rally look like by shining a light on evil, falsehood, ugliness and hatred. We get to choose which we ultimately prefer and our eternal destiny simply reflects that choice.

If you prefer love and light, you will seek it and find it. The alternative is to cling to a world that is passing away and, at the end of your life, watch in despair as it runs out through your hands like so much sand.

As C.S. Lewis puts it in The Weight of Glory:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
The light of the Lord reveals the infinite joy that is ours for the taking...if we want it. It is God's gift to us. The judgement is simply a question of whether we are willing to accept it or not.

May God grant us the grace to embrace that gift with our whole hearts!

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