Today, December 27, is the feast day of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. A couple of days ago, on Christmas Day, we read the gorgeous prologue to John’s gospel. It begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it… The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”
Themes of light and darkness continue throughout the gospel, and in the letters of John, but John’s use of darkness is different than the way we sometimes use it as a symbol today. The darkness does not necessarily signify malevolent and evil doings hidden in secrecy. Rather it is a state of not knowing, not being able to see the road ahead clearly. John’s gospel proclaims that even in this darkness of unknowing, the light of Christ guides our way. Thomas Merton wrote a wonderful prayer to this effect:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.
May we each follow the light of the Christ who is always with us on our own paths this Christmastide and beyond. And may we all have blessings upon blessings in 2020!