Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus said this, he departed and hid from them. John 12:30-36.
As a child, I always dreaded that moment in the evening when my mother turned off the light. I was firmly convinced of monsters and the idea that they had particular sway during the night-time hours. (Up until the age of around eight, my chosen career path was “vampire killer.”) Years later, I decided that while there are certainly monsters in the world, we make our own evil. Now, I’ve come full circle and have accepted that there really is something out there called evil, and that evil is a spiritual reality.
In this passage from John’s Gospel, Jesus encourages us to walk in the light “so that the darkness may not overtake you.” Once overtaken by darkness, we struggle to see where we’re going. We take the wrong path; we get lost. Jesus tells us that “the light is with you for a little longer.” Deep into this journey through Holy Week, we get the feeling that we are walking at dusk, as the light is fading.
This passage resonates with the opening of John’s Gospel, which described the life of Jesus as the light of all people. “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:9. If we believe in this light, we become children of God, or “children of light.” John seems to suggest that living into our Christian life will work a fundamental change in our spiritual DNA. As we travel through these scriptural pilgrimages during Holy Week, we should remember that Jesus calls us to become children of the light, reflecting the light of Christ into all the dark places of the world.
Jesus does not suggest that His followers will not experience the darkness. Good Friday teaches us that’s just not the case. Christianity does not operate as some sort of good luck charm or talisman against the darkness. Jesus’ assures us of something quite different. He tells us that the darkness will not “overcome” those who walk with Him. Once again, that’s got to be good news.
God watch over thee and me,
James R. Dennis, O.P.
© 2012 James R. Dennis