When I was 16, I received an all-expense paid, month-long, trip to the Holy Land. It would have made for great reality TV – 10 strangers, picked from different religions, being toured around Israel with a chaperone, a guide, and Rafi, the mini-bus driver. Our only fee was having to give a 2-hour presentation about our religion to the other 9 students and share our experience of Israel when we came home. While I don’t remember what I said, I still remember how I felt giving my crash course in Catholicism to my traveling companions. Imagine asking a 16-year old to summarize Catholicism in two hours. The only two distinct memories I have is one of the students asking me why some of our leaders were birds (aka cardinals) and Rafi’s question. At the end of my presentation, Rafi, a devout Jew and a witness to so many years of Middle East violence, asked, “How can you believe the Messiah has already come when there is so much evil in the world?” Growing up in a Catholic bubble of Philadelphia, I had never thought about it, let alone been asked to answer it on the spot. “I think He came and we weren’t ready for Him yet,” I said. "He needed to show us the way.”
Rafi was the first person to ask me how I could believe. In recent days, it feels as though in every conversation or post I read, the same question is directly or indirectly posed. Our collective readiness for His return doesn’t seem to have improved much since my 1998 answer. But perhaps readiness isn’t only about creating the light, but being able to know Him in the darkness. Peter wasn’t out of options or desperate when he responded “to whom shall we go?” He was certain. Here’s to our certainty in the Lord during these uncertain times.