Saint for the day:Alphege (954-1012)
Acts 11:19-26 – Psalm 87 – John 10:22-30
“The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter.”
These words that we hear at the opening of today’s Holy Gospel are like the words of a playwright: deep and filled with an element of suspense: “… and it was winter!”
Most of us have an understanding of winter. It’s a cold, dark time when there isn’t much growth in the natural world around us. In many places where snow is part of the winter scene it is also a time of quiet beauty. The dirt and grim of our regular world gets coated in a white blanket like a costume that hides the imperfections and irregular characteristics of our lives. Winter: a chance for the world to rest and re-group.
But it was also the Feast of the Dedication: the “Festival of Lights” and the people want to know, “… are you going to keep us in suspense? ‘Tell us plainly: are you the Christ?”
In typical “Johannine fashion” the Gospel writer is giving us a whole string of opposites: winter when there is little growth against the phenomenal growth of the early Church; the ‘Festival of Lights’ up against Jesus, “the light of the world.”
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?” Up against: “I told you and you do not believe!”
The beauty of the Holy Scriptures – both Old and New Testaments – is that they are ever present. Even when they are telling us of events of the past they are also bringing it home and into the reality of our day in and day out lives. We can steal the words from Ecclesiastes: “There is a season for everything under the earth: a time for birth; and a time for death …” And, just like the early Christian community who had to come to grips with their past, familiar cycle of things, we, too, must allow the cycle of birth and death; light and darkness; certainty and doubt to come out from under their cover of darkness to follow Jesus, the Light of the World.
Jesus didn’t just wave His hand over the troubles of the world of His time but showed them how He would always be with them – even in the midst of their doubts. We’re still in the Easter Season and the “Feast of Pentecost” is still down the road. But it will come! Then, filled with the Holy Spirit we’ll have some thirty, plus weeks of growth and nurturing taking us full circle and … back, again to the First Sunday of Advent.
Will we “get it right this year?” Maybe not this time. And that’s he beauty of our Church: we always get another chance! Amen!