Many of you know that I enjoy writing. Because I do, I joined the Enid Writers Club last year—a wonderful group of people who learn from and support one another. Poets, novelists, short story writers—most genres are represented.
Earlier in the school year, I thought about how we could encourage young writers, and we came up with the idea of a short story scholarship for graduating seniors. $1,000 will be awarded to the winner and paid to the school they will attend. Through our Community Tithe, St. Matthew’s supported the idea by funding the scholarship.
The rules were simple—2,000 words maximum short story and keep it PG13. The competition ended about a month ago, and we had five entries. The winner has been selected and notified, and we’ll make a presentation at the club’s banquet in May.
To get the writers off to a good start, we provided them with a writing prompt that they were to base their story. I wrote that and was hoping to provide a large enough canvas to let their imaginations work, and it did. “You and another person are traveling by car through the mountains. You enter a long tunnel and reach a point where you can no longer see the light from either end. There’s a loud roar and a flash of light. All is black. The vehicle is dead, and nothing works. You have no cell phone signal and only one light source unrelated to the car.”
The students wrote some great stories, but what I found interesting was that four out of five stories were about some aspect of death.
When I wrote that prompt, I thought they might come up with some Stephen King-type stories, but it wasn’t until I reread the prompt that I understood why death was so popular of a topic—tunnel, no light, no communication, all is black. Yep, that sounds like death.
Today, in our Gospel, John also wanted his readers to come to a similar conclusion about one of those he was writing about—Judas. There was talk of betrayal, a cryptic sign about the betrayer, Satan entering Judas, then leaving, and no one knows where he is going, but it wasn’t until those final few words that it is made clear—“he—Judas—immediately went out. And it was night.” He turned from the light, passed through the door, and went into the dark, into death.
Jesus said, “If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” (John 11:9-10) Again, a few verses on, He reiterates this point, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” (John 12:35-36)
In our lives, we can find ourselves in a tunnel without light, and we can intentionally walk out into the night. Still, the greatest danger for a Christian person is to be walking along in the spiritual light and not recognize it is getting dark. Not recognize that we have strayed. Therefore, we must remain alert, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the true light.
St. Paul tells us, “You are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5) Remain in the light by remaining focused on Jesus.