From Darkness to Light has three chapters, each on the theme of the title. I will give a brief introduction and then a short excerpt.
Chapter 1 is Christ and the thief, and it is a profound meditation on 3 men dying together at Golgotha, Christ in the middle. We watch closely Jesus’ final hours and the impact they have on one of the men.
Here is a brigand who is converted at the hour of his death. This should cause us to reflect on the death of less respectable folk, even notorious pagans. Here is a man on his way to paradise when all the world would consign him to hell. Here is a man who dies sanctified by a word from Jesus . . . only Jesus cares, as a shepherd cares for each of his sheep, even the sheep that is lost. Blessed Jesus! . . . No-one other than the Spirit can bring us into the intimacy of the Father and the Son, because, in God, this intimacy of Father and Son is shared with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit alone can introduce us into the trinitarian intimacy . . . There is no pathway of conversion without the breath of the Holy Spirit . . . With his last prayer, Christ teaches the thief how to die and through this teaching accompanies him in death . . . Death has no power. The thief may freely offer his spirit to God in a supreme liberty which despoils death of its prize.
Chapter 2 concerns Psalm 88. Daniel treats the psalm literally as the words of a dying man in pain; great pain and great trust in God.
Many centuries before Christ, perhaps a thousand years, a man was dying, one Heman, who fulfilled the function of singer in the temple in Jerusalem . . . All his life he had stood before God in the sanctuary and had grown in his faith and love for God to such a degree that we can speak of a real intimacy. . . I bless God for this psalm; the prayer is a real treasure, a miracle of faith which I receive with wonderment and thankfulness. It creates in us a thirst for a similar closeness with God; it awakens in us a deep compassion for the dying; it prepares us for the day of our own death . . . in his grace God can strengthen our faith by his Holy Spirit through these words . . . To whom should we turn to teach us to pray this psalm in its profound truth and to live it out fully . . . I can’t see anyone other than Christ himself. Like every good Israelite, Jesus prayed all the psalms including this one. He would have prayed it many times in his life, following the practice of the Jewish liturgy. He appropriated it and was impregnated with it to the point that in his death he begins to resemble what is described here . . . So, I marvel again and bless God still more for this prayer.
Chapter 3 is Christ and Mary Magdalene. Daniel notes in Mary a state of what he terms ‘obsession.’ She had seen Jesus hang naked on the cross, and after all she has suffered in what she saw, she is morbidly obsessed with Jesus’ body; 3 times she says ‘They have taken away [my Lord] and I don’t know where they have laid him.’ Jesus comes to dispel the darkness and give her a vocation, a calling into new life.
“Light be!” God said on the dawn of the world’s first morning, and light was. Mary enters the garden early in the morning on the first day of the week, in the dawning light. It is the hour when the Father, in silence, ponders afresh the newly created light, while the Holy Spirit hovers over the waters . . . She turns to see the Living One, then she turns again, as if in an internal dance, to unceasingly contemplate the Well-Beloved.
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