Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tuesday in Holy Week
Treading into the Night

Readings: Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a, 5ab-6ab, 15 and 17; John 13:21-33, 36-38

Night had fallen… Now has the Son of Man been glorified…

Can the paradox be any sharper? Just at the moment when the wheels are set in motion that will take him down the road of humiliation, Jesus speaks of glory. In the midst of the darkest of nights, Jesus sets his sights on the Light that never fades. This is not something we ourselves find easy to do when we face our own dark nights. How is Jesus able to do this? What, we may wonder, might be going through his mind and heart at this time?
One is reminded of the game or spiritual exercise – depending on your point of view – that is often played at youth camps. You know – the one where someone is blindfolded and is then taken by the hand and led on a stroll by someone else. At the end of the stroll everyone shares their experience. I think some call it a faith walk. It’s an appropriate name, because the one who is blindfolded has to trust, has to have faith, in the hand that leads. Otherwise, s/he will either have to stumble around blindly or remain stationary. In either case, s/he will be crippled by the darkness.

Isn’t this a good image of what Jesus is going through in the gospel today? Isn’t this what enables him to somehow see glory in defeat? When the blindfold of his Passion begins to be wrapped tightly around his eyes, Jesus clings ever more firmly to his heavenly Father. Jesus trusts that even now the Father continues to hide him in the shadow of his hand, giving him the strength he needs to walk bravely into the night.
The first stanza of a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins comes to mind, the same words quoted by King George VI in his Christmas broadcast of 1939:

I said to the Man at the gate of the year ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!’ So I went forth and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

What is your blindfold? How do you face the darkness of the night?

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