One of the challenges I faced in high school physics was understanding the difference between transparent and translucent. Transparency, I eventually understood, is having little impact on the light it receives, and translucent, somehow, disturbs the light it receives and creats a different image. John’s gospel relies quite heavily on symbolism to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ with the symbol of light being his favorite symbol. Often in the scriptures, we find light vs darkness, sight vs blindness and day vs night. Today, we seem to discover another symbol; transparency vs translucency. Transparency is about making clear one’s intentions, goals, or desires. Throughout the Gospel, Jesus is constantly challenging those who sought Him to carry them beyond their own human limitations; many followed Jesus for food and even for fame.
“Jesus answered, “What I am about to tell you is true. You are not looking for me because you saw the signs I did. You are looking for me because you ate the loaves until you were full. (John 6:26) Despite his many attempts of determent these people persisted. So, Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe." (John 4:48) For many, to be a follower of Jesus was about self-gain, and Jesus was able to recognize their clear intent and called it out.
He demanded of his Disciples something greater and higher, and to allow His light to have such and impact that it would not just pass through, like bread passes through our stomachs, but transforms then to become something bigger and greater. “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
Jesus, in his farewell prayer in John’s Gospel, seems to be inviting the disciples to go beyond transparency and become translucent as he was translucent by making God visible. “So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.” (John 17:5) Jesus invites his disciples to see the image of God in Him.
My friends, Christianity at it very heart is about ordinary human beings falling so deeply in love with Jesus that we become translucent so others can see his image in our lives. WE become like the many stained-glass windows of St Elizabeth’s which allows the light to shine through yet brings alive the many saints of the church.
In the Post Covid-19 world we face the same tension of transparency where it may leave many just where they were; blinded to the needs of the poor, the oppressed, and those marginalized by race, creed and class. Or, we can be like John, who tells the story of Jesus’ demands for translucency. We are called to be a faith community where we choose to allow the light of Jesus to create a new image of love and wholesome living. Remember that eternal life is knowing God, and through Jesus have an intimate relationship with God. This faith shines through so the world may see the power and presence of God through us. For they know we are Christians by our love.