While It Is Still Light: A Reflection for Tuesday of Holy Week 2021

Today, the Gospel returns to the second half of John 12. Much of this passage was our Sunday Gospel just a couple of weeks ago. But today’s reading adds on some interesting words, which are well worth pondering today.

You may remember that the passage begins with Jesus talking about the wheat that bears its fruit in dying, and how his moment has come to glorify God. Then he adds:

‘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’ (12.35f).

In the context of the text, the message is clear: his earthly days are numbered, so they had better walk with him while they still can. But what might these words say to us, who follow him two thousand years later, who know only the ‘after’ of the resurrection and not the ‘before’?

Two thoughts about this come to mind. First is that on this Tuesday of Holy Week we are about to follow Jesus’ journey to the cross. And his cross is the judgment of the world. And so it’s an opportunity for us to reflect and turn the spotlight on our hearts. How do our lives connect with Jesus’ story? What role might we play in the events that unfold between now and Friday? If we’ve been following the Lenten season from the beginning, or if we’re just paying attention to it now as we enter Holy Week, we have the opportunity now to really do the Lenten work of reflection, contemplation, and repentance, ‘while we have the light.’

And second is that, to quote an old proverb, we are to ‘make hay while the sun shines.’ As we’ve all learned over the past year, times of relative calm and stability are not to be taken for granted. The same is true of our spiritual life as much as our day-to-day affairs. There are times of light in the life of faith and there are times of darkness. Both have their place and their role. And we can know God in both. But the light times are to be enjoyed, appreciated, and used. They are not to be wasted.

And so, on this Tuesday of Holy Week, as we prepare to enter into the darkness of betrayal, self-serving bureaucrats, unjust trials, mockery, abuse, and crucifixion, let us walk in the light while we we can, and live as children of the light.

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