Once we find Christ’s way of love in our darkness, we can start to grasp the light that comes from His resurrection, like a warm January day that helps us hang on until spring.
In his poem January, John Updike captures the season here on campus these days: “The days are short, / The sun a spark, / Hung thin between / The dark and dark.”
No matter how many winters we endure, we find it easy to hope that the warm days we remember so well will return early this year. Couldn’t we just skip the annual dark cold and let things stay green and alive?
Our grade school science classes taught us why we can’t, and this lesson tells us about more than just nature’s rhythms. We all have days or whole seasons of darkness, times we would have wished to avoid because they bring us suffering or regret, sorrow or confusion. Thinking about Jesus and mulling over his life in his presence can help us see light even in these dark moments of our lives.
In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola invites people to reflect on the fact that the eternal Son of God accepted his Father’s mission to live in our world. For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to save that world. Echoing his Father’s love for us, Jesus wanted as much as anything to be with us in our darkest moments, including the poverty of His birth in a stable and His flight into Egypt as a refugee of political persecution.
Jesus went even further into our darkness. His best friends never quite understood Him, adoring crowds in Jerusalem turned on Him quickly and leaders of the people He came to renew thought Him a criminal who endangered Israel’s faithfulness to God. His struggle and loneliness ended up in the naked shame of public torture and execution, in front of His mother, while others watched for the entertainment value.
His resurrection tells us that Christ is a light that accompanies us in all of our nights. He came into our night to call us to go through it like Him and with Him. To go through hard times with Christ, we need to heed His call to go through them as He did. When we mull over His whole life of entry into our darkness, what we see is that He did it simply because it is He who wants to be with us because He loves us. Once we find His way of love in our darkness, we can start to grasp the light that comes from His resurrection, like a warm January day that helps us hang on until spring.
By Rev. Joseph Miller, S.J., associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Theology