By Johnny Gall
First, read John 1:4-5
Today I have been asked to write about life. In 500 words. Of course.
And, as fate would also have it, I have been asked to do this for a reflection to be posted on my birthday. So, since I can’t resist making hay of the coincidence, here’s what I’ve got.
27 years ago today (I am told) I was born. I then began to turn blue, because I was premature and my lungs hadn’t developed. I was in the hospital for weeks. At some point during this time in the hospital, my parents are told that I’ve been moved to a different room because of an anonymous call threatening to “kidnap the Gall baby and kill his parents” (I know, I know. I have a hard time believing it too. If it helps my parents have sworn up and down a thousand times). We never found out what all that was about.
This is probably not the reflection you were expecting. Here’s my point. It kind of impacts a person to know that the shadow of death has been looming over them literally from the cradle. The community to which John writes his Gospel faced similar circumstances. Because of their belief in Jesus as the Messiah, they had been cast out of the communities they had once called home. They lived in exile and dislocation in the desert, facing the elements and the empire, with only each other to rely on. They knew that the shadows of death and darkness hung over them, and always had.
So, what I love about John’s writing here is that he never says that the light will overcome the darkness. He knows these people and their lives too well to promise that the darkness hovering over them will be banished. What he does say is that light and life will endure, and not themselves be overcome by darkness. Not, of course, that their physical lives and actual lights will never cease, but that Jesus has brought into the world a light and life that cannot be snuffed out, no matter how the darkness grows.
During this time of Lent, when we focus on fasting and repentance, it can be easy to get swept away with the trials and struggles of our faith journeys. We even begin the season by remembering our own mortality. Today, take a moment to remember that even in the midst of this darkness, and the darkness to come, there is a light, a love and a life that will not be abandoned or overcome.
Prayer: God, in the midst of our darkness, our repentance and our journey to Calvary, thank you for being with us. Guide and protect us and let our light endure even through darkness.
1. What are the places of light and life in your life? What endures, even when times seem dark?
2. How do you differentiate between the life John writes of and life as we speak of it? And light?