And It Was Night

Tuesday of Holy Week

John 13:30 “And It Was Night”


“And it was night”. This phrase brought to mind the Book of Genesis chapter one – the creation story. In this story everything was “day” as opposed to “night”. This phrase “And it was night” from the Gospel Reading for Tuesday of Holy Week, gave me a jolt today. We hear the same Readings year after year and they are still never the same! We are never the same. We are never in the same internal state. We are always spiritually in a different place, and it is always in the place we are at, in any given moment, that the Lord speaks to us. Today the juxtaposition of the “night” in the Last Supper scene and the “day” in the Creation Story was like a quake within. The first Creation Story, Genesis Chapter One, is so powerful, so full of promise, full of hope and new life. There is no pain in it. We can relive it every time we go out for a walk in nature – day or night. In the early morning we can sing – “Birds of the air praise the Lord”, “Sun, praise the Lord”, “Clouds of the heaven, praise the Lord”, “All God’s children, praise the Lord”; and at night we can sing – “Stars of the heavens, praise the Lord”, “Night and day praise the Lord”, “All beasts wild and tame, praise the Lord”. We can sing the creation story at anytime of the day. “Evening came and morning came, the first day”, “…. the second day”, and so one. And, this story from Genesis Chapter One, we hear in four days time at the Easter Vigil.

But, now, on Tuesday of Holy Week we hear “And it was night”(Jn. 13:30) Not like the night the shepherds heard the angels sing “Glory to God in the highest Heaven, and on earth peace for those he favours!” (Lk 2:14). And not like the night that the three wise men saw the star: “We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage”. (Mt. 2:2). But, the “night” of John 13:30 had begun as the duplicity of Herod was unveiled.  In Matthew, chapter 2 we heard of another night, after Jesus’ birth with a warning dream. An “angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream”, telling him to “Escape into Egypt”, because Herod intends “to do away with him, (Jesus)”. (Mt. 2:13).

And there is an account of another night. Nicodemus came to Jesus at “night”, out of fear of his fellow Pharisees. Nicodemus, it could be said, was in a twilight zone. He recognized that Jesus “came from God, as a teacher, because no one could perform the signs that you do unless God were with him.” (Jn 3:2) Jesus tells the hesitant believer, Nicodemus , “though the light has come into the world people have preferred darkness to the light, because their deeds are evil”. (Jn 3:19) In John 11:13, Jesus tells his disciples “Those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them”. Nicodemus was stumbling. The stumbling of Nicodemus found its birth in our first parents. In the Second Creation Story, Genesis chapter 2, “in the cool of the day (that is the evening or night)” the Creator walks in the Garden and meets Adam and Eve in the night of their sin. He promises that through an offspring of a woman good will prevail over evil, (Gen 3:14,15) that is ultimately life over death, day over night, but not without travail.

Now in Holy Week we are brought face to face with the stumbling of the followers of Jesus, and ultimately us. His friends and followers have been at times ardent believers in him and at other times stumbling and awkward. Some have left him. Those who are with him at the Passover meal are the die hard followers, fearful, confused but none the less with him. That is, except for one. Somewhat like us. Deep down we know that he is the “light of the world”, that he has “the words of eternal life”, and like the Apostles we say “To whom else shall we go. You have the words of everlasting life.” We know the truth. We are compelled by Jesus, his message, his way of life. But, around the periphery of our heart there is a nagging hesitancy when the chips are down. There is a darkness, a night, a confusion, a disconnect, between what we know from life and what he calls us to.   We, with the apostles, struggle. Night is not that far from any of us.

In the night in the first garden, the Garden of Eden, God mercifully told Adam and Eve, that the night of their own doing would be overcome. Sin would not prevail. Now in the night, Jesus and his followers would enter another Garden, Gethsemane. In the Garden of Eden, the Father would call out to Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” In Gethsemane, Jesus would say to his friends, the equivalent of where are you. “Have you fallen asleep? Could you not watch with me one hour?” Like Adam and Eve, the test is presented and darkness takes over. We stumble in darkness, in the night. The Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gethsemane are two sides of the coin of promise, forged in the darkness, by love. The immensity of this love will be experienced in Triduum events of Easter! The fullness of day and light!

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