“Light, Life, Darkness, and the Shadow of Death”
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
People often say that it’s always darkest right before the dawn. It’s meant to be helpful. It’s said to people who are struggling, or grieving, or suffering. And often it is true. Perhaps you’ve experienced a darkness so deep you thought you’d never come out, and then, right when you think it can’t get worse, the sun is rising, and it’s a new day. Perhaps it’s true. St. John Chrysostom said, “For in truth the condition of men was at the worst before Christ’s coming” (Homily XIV:1 [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf110.iii.XIV.html]). Even in the book of the prophet Isaiah, right before the section Matthew quotes, Isaiah says about the people of Israel: “They will pass through the land hard-pressed and famished, and it will turn out that when they are hungry, they will be enraged and curse their king and their God as they face upward. Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness” (Isaiah 8:21-22, NASB). Not only that, but Matthew quotes Isaiah not that the people are walking in darkness, but sitting in darkness. If you’re moving, at least you have some hope of getting out of the black, but if you’re just sitting there, blind and motionless, what hope is there until morning comes?