Tuesday, April 16, 2019
As we continue along the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering, we move out of the privacy of a home, and Mary’s intimate ministry of anointing, to outside, perhaps the marketplace and there is a festival taking place. John 12:20-36 tells the story. Action is limited but familiar verses are abundant. If we transplant ourselves there, in the crowd, we can witness Philip and Andrew and the Greeks who say “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” No more information is provided about them, or whether they got their wish, but rather, Jesus begins to share what is on his heart and we can hear each word, as though for ourselves alone. “The hour has come” and then we hear those oft quoted phrases… Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies…those who love their life will lose it…whoever serves me must follow me…where I am there will my servant be …now my soul is troubled…when I am lifted up…
Jesus then speaks about his death, complete with the special effects and veiled references to his crucifixion and he leaves this thought with the crowd: “If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going…believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” We all know what it means to ‘walk in the darkness’ however we might variously interpret it; the darkness of fear, of grief, of depression, of anger, of despair, of sin. We all know the ‘darkness’, to not know where we are going and sometimes a way out seems hidden…or we are just too frightened, or too tired to want to look for it.
If we hear the call first, to be children of light, then the other verses… “whoever serves me must follow me” and so on, we can understand them as the ‘how’, or at least part of the ‘how’, of leaving the darkness, the ‘how’ of discipleship and what it means to live in the light. What it means to accept God’s forgiveness and grace and live the new life. The words of response to the Baptismal Covenant come to mind…to each question, “Will you persevere in resisting evil and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ? And the response is “I will, with God’s help”. And that is a good message to take to heart for this journey of ours, the life journey, the Christian journey, the journey of this Holy Week.