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I (mostly) don’t understand

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5

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Writers love this first verse. Because we love words. To think of God in terms of words, to think of words in terms of him, it is too mysterious and wonderful for our wordsmithing minds to understand. And we can’t ignore it. We must ponder it.

But what caught my eye today as I read was this last verse, the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.

When I first typed this verse out, my auto-correct must have changed “overcome” to “understand”, leaving me with “but the darkness has not understood it”.

I know what it is to not understand, to be confused. To hear words in a language that make sense to those who speak it, but have no meaning to me. I have studied and traveled and not understood plenty.

This lost in translation made it sounds so tepid, to not understand. Like there might be a furrowed brow, a tilt of the head, a question. A slight confusion of sorts. It implies there is a possibility of understanding, if only things were presented differently.

But there is nothing mild or slight here.

This is light and darkness.

Good and evil.

Total opposites.

There is more than a word taken out of context or a “miscommunication”. It is total incompatibility. And the actual verse says “overcome”.

“But, the darkness has not overcome it.”

Hatred cannot be love.

Evil cannot be good.

Darkness cannot be light.

And we are in the waiting week of Advent and I find my own wordsmithing mistake ironic. Because I live in a world that does not understand the light. Where I do not understand it.

We are waiting to understand.

I believe this is part of Advent’s purpose, of setting time aside each day as Christmas approaches so we can simply ponder what has happened: God came as a human baby. It makes no sense. In fact it sounds simply crazy. But I can’t ignore that heart leap of joy when I reflect on it. That little bit of light that lives in me that recognizes the truth and DOES UNDERSTAND.

Most of me does not understand the mystery of the miracle, but a small part does, and that part pierces the darkness and wins. It overcomes it.

If you are interested in reading along with me during Advent, I am following the suggested daily Advent readings found at Catholic.org.

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