The Gospel for the Tuesday in Holy Week: John 12: 20-36
St John’s Gospel, chapter 12, verse 35: ‘Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes”.’
Shortly after Helen and I were married we rented a cottage on the Isle of Man from a lovely elderly Irish lady. She had left Ireland in the 1930s and settled in the middle of the Irish sea in the little island that is my wife’s native land. Miss Hankinson was of that fearless tradition of maiden octogenarians (of which I have known quite a few) that seem to be undeterred from the usual things that feed most people’s anxieties. So, for example, to walk in darkness from her cottage down a twisting lane to the beach below us, through a way that deepens and is overcast with trees towards its end, would be a soft stroll in the quiet of a still night, protected by the presence of God, rather than a frightening experience of gloomy, shadow-cast moonlight, weird shapes leaping into sight from hedges, to scare the prickly and vivid imagination, as the wind stirred the Sycamore branches above.
‘The light is with you a little longer’ is such a comforting thought for the glass half-full people of this world – and a little scary for the glass half- empty ones. By walking in the light we are clearly on the opposite tack to those who are simply concerned about sailing away from what frightens them. That our way does not necessarily lead further into the light, but potentially into challenge and darker days, does not play on the anxiety of the Miss Hankinsons of this world. They rather let themselves look to the light that they have, keep their eyes there and walk in it. It may only be with them a little longer, but it is there and a reminder that the source of that light, Christ himself, is always present, even when what we see as light has been removed.
On Friday we shall be standing at the foot of the Cross and looking in our mind’s eye at Christ, crucified for us. We will think of Mary looking up at the cross and seeing her son. We shall think too, of John, as he took his new responsibility to heart and of them sharing a home in unusual circumstances. As we look onwards to that day, let us hold the light of Christ in our hearts for one another and not succumb to fear, but walk our path with courage and hope, as our Lord walks with us as our strength and guide.
Simon’s organ piece for listening and reflection today:
David Nunn is posting for us some short pieces of video film introducing parts of Jerusalem, that will be familiar to us from the Passion story. To see today's extract, click on this link: